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. Long Enough To Leave, the band’s second full-length, spreads its yesteryear love a considerable distance, canvassing everything from The Beatles, Kinks, and Byrds to surf rock, first wave garage, and jangling ’80s guitar pop, all with a decidedly lo-fi aesthetic. And while raking in such vast sounds and ideas should make for a disjointed listen, the record holds together surprisingly well.
The band fuels its sonic nostalgia trip with a hazy, half-baked ambiance that hangs over the proceedings. The relaxed tone is set early on lead track “Marbled Birds”, a druggy slice of Velvet Underground proto-punk complete with a Mo Tucker-esque drum stomp and singer Michael Olivare’s paranoid lyrical ramblings (“Turn the picture on itself/ the images start to scream”). It’s a dark introduction to a record that’s otherwise splashed with plenty of warmth. The title track is sun-kissed, blissful surf pop not far removed from the likes of Real Estate, while “Reason’s Run”, “Brown Balloon”, and “Bad Design” skip ahead a few years to draw from the indie pop sounds of The Smiths, R.E.M., and The Cure.
Leaning too hard on inspiration can be a recipe for trouble, but it’s a problem The Mantles aren’t phased by. Long Enough To Leave might not blaze much of a unique trail, wearing its love of the past proudly on its sleeve. That said, it still delivers its share of gems culled from other well-traveled musical paths.
Essential Tracks: “Marbled Birds”, Reason’s Run”, and “Bad Design”