Record review: Fences – Lesser Oceans (2015, LP)

fences lesser oceans

Fences is a Seattle-based musical project centred on the songs of vocalist and guitarist Christopher Mansfield. His approach to song-writing is different to many Seattle natives before him; you won’t find any of the grunge stylings of Nirvana or earthy folk of Fleet Foxes here. Indie-rock lite is the cornerstone of this particular album – the band’s second in five years – and while the general feeling of pleasantness can be a little tiring after ten songs, it’s perfect for Sunday mornings or polite company. Opener ‘Songs About Angels’ sounds sweet but has some fairly dark lyrics, possibly based on Mansfield’s past struggles with alcohol and a stint in rehab. Most well-known to Australian audiences would be sprightly single ‘Arrows’, which has had a decent share of radio play here, undoubtedly aided by an appearance by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to add some big-name glamour as well as some well-placed cuss words in a pop setting. ‘My Mountain Is Cold’ features some nice mandolin touches and the title track references the band’s hometown with the words “it’s okay, it’s mostly grey,” before confirming that their biggest strength is their vocal interplay between Mansfield and bassist Lindsey Starr. This is a nice enough album, but the difference in quality between the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis tracks and everything else makes it a little disjointed, fostering a feeling that the album isn’t far off being a single with eight B-sides. (Elektra)

For mX

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