Release Date: Jun 18, 2013
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Noise Pop, Neo-Psychedelia
The Mantles don't work fast: they've been around since 2006 and Long Enough to Leave is only their second album. This unhurried attitude is reflected in the music as their songs gently roll along in a relaxed wave of neo-psych guitar pop that calls to mind classic Flying Nun albums and the cream of the paisley underground. The songs are simple and laid-back, but packed with jangling layers of acoustic and electric guitars, rumbling bass, and the occasional keyboard peeking through the tangle of sound.
“This isn't me,” sings Michael Olivares. “This is happening to someone else.” That line comes in the middle of the Mantles’ second full-length album, Long Enough to Leave, but the sense of detachment resonates throughout the record. It’s right there in the title, taken from another lyric: “You’re home/ Long enough to leave/ Always coming back to see / How far off you’ve gone.” The feeling of absence is constant-- everyone in these songs seems to disappear.
San Francisco is just going to have to be one of those places where the residual spirit of the Summer of Love saturates all creative endeavors until further notice. If only it were ignorable rehash, it might be easier to forgo the intense listening regimen that perhaps more sophisticated recordings might call for. As it stands, the value of Bay Area scrappy garage-pop isn’t exactly at a premium; luckily, The Mantles are avoiding the inflation of a saturated market.
San Francisco is a haven for some of the best garage rock the past few years have had to offer with Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Sonny and the Sunsets, and Kelley Stoltz, just to name a few. There are a lot more bands and they are all worth checking out, providing their own unique take on garage rock and revitalizing a genre that has been done to death since the late ‘60s. The Mantles offer a prettier take on that sound than many of their peers with jangly guitars and a greater emphasis on melodic songwriting, often playing gently as opposed to bashing their instruments in to oblivion.
San Francisco foursome The Mantles are driven by the simplicity of a jangle tune, a stylistic choice that’s been looked at with a smidgen of cynicism ever since Roger McGuinn introduced the Rickenbacker to rock n’ roll. Perhaps it’s due to the uncomplicated nature of the melodies, how a well-defined backbeat makes it from beginning to end without the need to intrude with any unwelcome guitar flexing. One can say it’s clearly reductive to define any composition with a lack of verve as lazy, as if sticking to the limitations of a chiming melody only proves they’re content with their lack of character.
San Franciscan band the Mantles aren't reinventing the wheel, but they aren't content spinning theirs either. They've continued to move further away from their early, muddier days with their second album. Long Enough To Leave is their most polished recording to date — the guitars chime and sparkle, while the vocals no longer sound like they've been recorded in the next room.
Out in San Francisco, where the sights and sounds of the ’60s continue to thread through the cultural fabric of the city, The Mantles are one of a growing generation of bands flipping through the CliffsNotes of their seasoned garage and psych-pop ancestry. If that sounds like faint praise, it’s not. The Mantles might wear their love of vintage rock ‘n’ roll on their sleeves, but they certainly put it to good use.
As with most contemporary garage rock, Long Enough to Leave can perhaps be most efficiently described by highlighting which 60?s bands it ostensibly draws the largest influence from. The immediate conclusion would be The Byrds, whose influence can be felt in every jangled chord and stunted vocal delivery. The comparison, however, is a reference point that quickly looses relevance as the album progresses.