Posted on December 20th, 2012 (12:05 pm) by H. William Davis

Fuzzy and distorted, A Rare Time by Boston natives, Strange Mangers, embodies a shoegaze mentality reminiscent of a decade past. This sound is appropriate for A Rare Time, as many of the messages it tries to communicate are intimate, heartfelt, and urgent, as if the layers of distortion are simply a way to conceal a muffled bellow of a secret. The sound is similar to Pinback and We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes era Death Cab For Cutie, although viewed from under a layer of frosted glass, giving the effect of a distant, miniature hinterland recoiling through the mind. A Rare Time is an album for a voyage, a road trip, for a time of personal discovery, the kind of album you play thoughtlessly only to let the individual songs trigger memories some many years later.

This effect is achieved in some ways by a heavier reliance on vocals that the band's self-titled debut from last year. While Strange Mangers was still atmospheric and despondent, it revealed few physical remnants to cling onto. "Treffpunkt" opens the album with a blaring, scraping cacophony of chords unwinding into something surprisingly harmonic, a metaphor for insight emerging from chaos. The accompanying vocals are stretched out and hazy, envying a feeling of hopeful wistfulness unique to this style of music.

This emotional up and down is so unique to the shoe gaze and emo bands who had paved the way before being buried under a mountain of commercial slop. Musically, Strange Mangers demonstrates a deep respect for the acts responsible for their sound without become awash in rehashes of the same old material. A Rare Time embodies the early millennial sound many of its forefathers have already abandoned. In context, it becomes questionable whether that sound should have been abandoned in the first place. Whereas A Rare Time sounds genuine and internal, the rest of the shoe gaze empire has fallen into a sort of lazy dad-rock conglomerate. "Sorry Song," for example, is heartfelt from its opening moments, a catchy, gentle staccato repetition backing some of the more emotionally intense vocals of the record.

Eight minute opus, "Already a Blur," closes out the album appropriately, distorting and blending into something unrecognizable before fading into silence once and for all. As important as recollection is to the conceit of A Rare Time, "Already A Blur" is the sound of a memory fading, the few concrete remnants of thought swept away by time. The metaphor established on A Rare Time is complete, invoking both a sense of loss for an abandoned or watered-down style of music, and for the moments an entire generation dumped into that music. It is a collage of ideas constructing a well thought out personality, the whole of a human being. Despite being heavily-influenced, A Rare Time is nuanced in its own way, universal in message, and extremely listenable.

Track List:
1. Treffpunkt
2. Handmaids
3. Fly Loft
4. Sorry Song
5. Here's Hoping
6. Already a Blur

Strange Mangers: A Rare Time
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

74 / 100
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