Christopher Browder has demolished Mansions. After spending more than a decade building his one-man project into a proper rock’n’roll band that tours with Taking Back Sunday and The Get Up Kids, he’s had enough. ‘Big Bad’, his first album in seven years, forgoes loud guitars and louder drums for soft synths, bubbling bass, and restraint. The band’s record label calls it a “a document of change and growth” but Browder is crystal clear. “Music… had become a job,” he says. “(Now) it feels more like a creative necessity.” Sometimes the new style suits- ‘Black and White’ burbles like Radiohead, and the looping strings of ‘Let’s Explode’ are an excellent touch. But too often things sound flat or unfinished- the pace is pedestrian throughout, the same synth sounds are employed over and over, and too much digital fuzz makes Browder’s already nasal delivery sound like he’s singing with a head cold. Kudos to Browder for recapturing his passion but as pleasant as ‘Big Bad’ is, it doesn’t feel like this is going to be essential listening for anyone else.

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