Exit Music Review SectionMusic Review Navigation Menu


Although I'm not a fan of pop music in a top 40 sense, I definitely have a thing for well-constructed pop music that isn't too sappy or silly. Like all genres of music, there's no real certain way to even define it, but I can say without a doubt that Mantler is pop music. Mantler is the pseudonym of one Chris Cummings and Landau is his second release for the Tomlab label (which is definitely stretching its boundaries having released everything from The Books to Xiu Xiu to Mantler).

Mantler is casio-pop of the highest-order. Listening to Landau kicks me back to some of the silly stuff I've heard by Momus mixed with yet another helping of 80s music. 10 tracks roll by in a lean 36 minutes and you basically know what you're getting into from the very first track of "Time-Go-Round." Mixing multiple keyboard melodies with canned drum machine beats, Cummings lays down his perfectly glossy vocals over it all. Things continue with the next couple tracks and basically the entire album is variations on the same sort of theme.

"Playin Along" mixes things up with a slow-groove beat and some string synths but it still can't escape the syrupy feeling that the rest of the album has. Don't get me wrong, everything is immaculately constructed on the disc and it's obviously not some sort of elaborate joke (his previous album was very similar), but Landau is so throwback sounding that you're really only going to enjoy it if you enjoy lite 80s pop or want something seriously kitschy to play at your next martini get-together. You could argue that Steven Merritt was doing similar things years ago with his keyboard-driven albums as Magnetic Fields, but there's a world of difference between his highly-varied tracks and this more straightforward work by Cummings. The best kind of pop music sticks to your insides, but this is in one ear and out the other.

Rating: 4