With the exuberance of Fun and the musicality of Ben Folds meets Fall Out Boy, come The Manorlands Project, an off shoot outfit that sprung from the alternate wake of Broke City. They’re a dynamic foursome equipped with hooks, sing-alongs and brightly colored jams that sparkle like rain in the sun. But this isn’t to say that they shy away from mature themes and sounds.
Winter is a well-rounded piece of art that bridges different levels of emotion between pop, alternative and good old-fashioned rock. And all the while, the passion in the piano and vocals act as a glue holding this group’s X factor in check. There’s no denying these guys have layers and each one plays a part in creating their trademark sound of approachability and depth.
“Don’t Look Back” starts things off with a medium slow paced rock tune in 6/8, swinging sweetly and packing a solid backbeat. The piano hammers on as the chorus carries us along for the ride. It has a great bounce and shows off the lead vocalist’s strength in both the mid range and falsetto. The mood is tinged slightly on “One Last Time,” which pleased me to hear because it shows they weren’t apprehensive to peel back their candy shell and show us a more intimate and somber side. This track is just as catchy and driving as the others, but plays like a ballad at its core.
On the other side “Cabin Fever” kicks out like a straight ahead alternative cut and boasts a powerful chorus that echoes the magic of Third Eye Blind and Everclear in the ‘90s. The drums make great choices and the vocals couldn’t sound better sitting up in that register. No to mention, the vocalist’s rich belt makes for the perfect garnish toward the end.
What makes this album even more special is that came from old material that finally surfaced thanks to the former band’s dissolving. It was time to make a change and embrace a new beginning, but in doing so they revitalized songs that were penned under the Broke City name, the very songs found on Winter. Ten days of solitude with nothing but a studio in the woods and voila. Keep that in mind as you listen, it’s a fine lesson in acting on inspiration and riding the spark.
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