It’s about time. Since their formation in 2014, Mansionair have garnered critical acclaim in the form of a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording and a huge following on the back of several singles over the years. But it’s taken three years of recording and perfecting for their debut album, Shadowboxer, to land. And boy does it stick that landing.
Sprawling over 16 tracks of dreamy alt-pop, the Sydney-based trio’s first LP combines their killer singles ‘Easier’ and ‘Violet City’, with a plethora of new bangers and melancholic cuts. ‘Alibi’ shows off the breathy vocals that Mansionair are known for, while still hitting hard with a club-worthy beat. Softer track ‘Heartbeat’ encloses the listener in a bubble of despondent dreaminess, reminiscent of The xx.
What really stands out on Shadowboxer is the singles. Assured to be a rave live, ‘Technicolour’ stands out with its anthemic chorus and ear-catching alternating drum beat. ‘Astronaut (Something About Your Love)’ demonstrates a feeling of unrequited love and yearning both in the whispy vocal-tinged music and the lyrics, “Right now, I’m feeling like an astronaut, I’m fading to the thought of coming back to you.” But all that melancholy falls away when the verse drops into a sung riff enhanced by vocoder, thrusting the infectious beat to the forefront of the song. Mansionair have stated that the album’s title insinuates a degree of “preparation”, and how “you’re not really fighting anything, but you’re practising to fight.” Ultimately, it symbolises their long game approach to creating their debut LP.
Even though their singles are the highlights of the album, Shadowboxer as a whole is a commendable work of modern music. The three boys from Sydney should be proud, their shadowboxing paid off.