The Chicago scene has been quick to label the Boas "the next big thing," and Wilco seemed to agree, tapping the band to open a few weeks worth of dates. However, for all of the hype and acclaim swirling around the band, one thing seems to be missing: hooks. With ten songs in under 40 minutes, Mansion is a brief affair, but for all of the jammy emotiveness sprinkled throughout the record, the songs never present an irresistible, or even terribly memorable, melody.
The Boas draw from influences ranging from Neil Young and the Rolling Stones to Syd Barrett and Red Red Meat (the precursor to Califone), with hints of Moviola and the Fruit Bats. Combining Young's homier acoustic sensibilities with the Stones' off the cuff swagger and Barrett's loose and woozy flair for free-form meanderings, Mansion is punctuated with warmly humming keyboards, plinking piano, and effortless vocals. However, in a musical climate where the straight-from-the-gut slash and burn approach of garage rock is becoming the status quo, the surprisingly timid Boas and their penchant for writing piano/vocal duets (laced with guitars, rather than dominated by them), will either be a welcome change of pace or merely lost amidst the racket. Holy Childhood-esque kitchen-sink boogies like "The Last Zoo House Band" (which more than lives up to its title) and slow burners like "For Sheriff Allison" show what the Boas are capable of at their best, while "Celebration" and "Get Up, Crippled Wife" plod along at a lackadaisical pace. The latter even finds Klos settling into a vocal style akin to a struggling Grant Lee Philips. The sketchy, almost half-finished quality of the songs is alternately endearing and frustrating, and while it does tend to come off stronger in a live setting, the end result of Mansion seems to be a subtle album unfortunately outshined by its own hype.