It’s not a surprise that Mini Mansions, the warped pop project of Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman and friends Zach Dawes and Tyler Parkford, released their self-titled debut album on QOTSA frontman Josh Homme’s label Rekords Rekords (with a co-release assist from Mike Patton’s imprint Ipecac Records). To a certain extent, the trio also keeps it in the family musically: the tension between their insistent melodies and bad attitude suggests a lighter version of Homme and company’s more whimsical moments (particularly on the excellent “Monk”) and their vocals, at their brassiest, recall Patton’s bravado. The band’s knack for hooks and harmonies puts them in the realm of power poppers like Fountains of Wayne -- though Shuman and friends are much, much less chipper -- and their fondness for molesting a singalong tune with plenty of aggression occasionally recalls Nirvana. However, the single biggest influence on Mini Mansions, and Mini Mansions, is John Lennon circa The White Album. These songs are steeped in the same druggy whimsy that made “Glass Onion” and “I’m so Tired” at once snide and vulnerable: “Vignette #2” and “Girls” have the kind of winding melodies at which Lennon and the rest of the Fab Four excelled, while “Wünderbars” is made all the more trippy by surreal wordplay like “bruised pornographic double hex.” Though Mini Mansions still have the tendency to ramble like they did on their first EP, when they focus, they really focus. “Kiddie Hypnogogia” and “The Room Outside” juggle jaunty melodies and heavy codas but never sound scattered. Meanwhile, “Crime of the Season” and “Seven Sons,” with their horror show organs and prickly harpsichords, are more haunted house-pop than chamber pop. A funhouse mirror of an album, Mini Mansions is a few shades lighter than Rekords Rekords’ usual output, but it’s still twisted and catchy enough to win over those more familiar with Shuman's day job.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares