Released earlier this year, elusive Glasgow outfit Stock Manager return to alt brilliance with their third EP.
In many ways, listening to Mansions of Time feels akin to sleeping with your ex: it is nostalgic, it is discomforting, and vitally it is constantly complicating your expectations of it. Over the five tracks, the band deftly combine chordal gritty guitars with their trademark disaffected vocal delivery, curating an evocative exploration of (the lovingly dubbed) ‘VHSrock’. Appropriately, ‘Conversation Hangover’ opens the EP with the sound of tape winding, before launching straight into solo drums. Stock Manager really lead with their strengths here, with facets such as their self-aware genre experimentation acting as the perfect foil to an overall well-produced sound.
Though the EP maintains (and arguably elevates) the grunginess of previous releases, ‘Young In Wet Cement’ and ‘Mansions of Time’ invoke a surprisingly pleasant trip-hop feel – à la early Massive Attack – which makes a welcome addition to their aesthetic. This steady groove felt through the title track cyclically rolls round and is only interrupted momentarily prior to the refrain of “(…) watch TV, smoke some weed then play PC”. While Mansions of Time is sonically steeped in the motifs of 90s alt, it is such lyrics that present sardonic flashes of the contemporary: “You should be getting up / Not hanging out on Discord calls”. It is these knowing nods to individualism and musicianship in 2021 that really ground the EP, as well as set it apart from other efforts of pre-Y2K revivalism.
Finally, it should be said that the success of this record can largely be attributed to the strength of Stock Manager’s artistry itself – with every hit and strum feeling meaningfully placed. A thoroughly compelling release, and a great entry point for anyone diving into their beefy catalogue.
Words: Niamh MacPhail