It’s hard to believe that Shadowboxer is only Mansionair’s first album.
The Sydney-based trio have already received a Grammy nod, having on ODESZA’s nominated "Line of Sight", they’ve toured with some of music’s brightest names (Florence & The Machine, Chvrches), and received viral hit status with much earlier release "Hold Me Down". Now the group are keen to prove why they made us wait 4 years from their first EP to their debut record.
Let's get this straight: Shadowboxer is a monster of a record, it took Mansionair three years to write and produce in its entirety. It is dark, moody, danceable, uplifting, and a whole lot of confusing antitheses crammed into 16 tracks. And it’s a perfect showcase for why the group deserves a place in our playlists.
It would be impossible to pinpoint who inspired Shadowboxer, musically – it’s crammed with Flume-esque riffs, James Blake-style electronic fragments, and the silky production skills of fellow Australian trio Seekae. "I Won’t Take No For An Answer" is deliciously minimalistic, reminiscent of Imogen Heap in her vocoder "Hide and Seek" days. It’s a heady and candescent track, and an excellent platform for showcasing band vocalist Jack Froggatt’s unique, sorrowful croon.
Genre-bending "Astronaut (Something About Your Love)" veers on the brink of a dance electronic number, it’s tracks like this that showcase the group’s production abilities - niggling earworms crawl into the gaps between lyrics and texturize verses. It feels wide and hollow, the expanse of space shackled into a 3 minute 25 second song.
At its weakest, the record teeters on the brink of monotony. Nine songs in, and it’s beginning to lose that initial momentum, but then unexpectedly we get reeled back in with star of a track "Sierra". It shows us that Mansionair are capable of much more than the indie-electronic category they’ve been prematurely shafted into, also, they aren’t afraid to prune back the vocals for a much craved instrumental interlude.
What sets this record apart from other ‘alternative electronic pop’ releases at the moment, is that yes, it is excellently produced, it’s catchy and it’s pretty bloody cool, but above all, it is moving. Mansionair haven’t just written 16 tracks to satisfy a bunch of teenagers going through their ‘indie emo’ phase, they’ve written a work that would make anyone feel something. With heartbreakingly relatable lyrics like "Easier"’s ‘I’m stuck here in my skin’, they prove that they’re a force to be reckoned with, and a band for the people.