- Treetop Mansion, Up Till Morning
(GlennSource Records, digital)
Recently, several music-related Seven Days stories and album reviews have had similar leads: Local band/musician finally finishes up long-procrastinated, drawn-out recording project amid pandemic. That recurring theme makes perfect sense, as people have been stuck inside and forced to take stock of their lives. Finishing up outstanding projects was inevitable.
Clint Bierman and Peter Day of party band the Grift just wrapped up an album the pair began developing five years ago. As Treetop Mansion, they recently dropped Up Till Morning, a pristine, 10-song assemblage of, as the band's website states, "concentrated sonic syrup as addictive as Vermont's best known maple export."
Indeed, Treetop Mansion's alt-pop tunes are prismatic like rock candy, tangy like Pixy Stix and savory like a Werther's Original. Bierman and Day have worked extensively together for years and note online that the songs from Up Till Morning came out of intensive weekly songwriting sessions that took place over a considerable span of time. With Signal Kitchen's Dave DeCristo in the booth and additional instrumentation from Trey Anastasio Band drummer Russ Lawton and ubiquitous Burlington drummer Sean Preece, Bierman and Day present a truly fine addition to Vermont's canon.
Lavish, sweeping vocal harmonies kick off the aptly named opener "Prologue," a two-minute track that serves as a surprisingly thorough intro to the band's overall vibe. Immediately the listener can hear that the record has been painstakingly crafted. The complex way the brief song's elements fit together is impressive. Overlapping phrases and instruments complement each other in deeply satisfying arrangements.
Treetop Mansion have a demonstrable understanding of pop, how it needs to operate and how to be decadent without crossing into the realm of cheesy. Up Till Morning is the kind of album that reveals new details on each listen: a quick little synth line here, a fancy fill there, mind-bending harmonies all around. What stands out most, perhaps even more than the enthralling hooks of tracks like new-wave head-bopper "Great Ghost" or '70s stoner-rock throwback "Barrel to Fill," is how rich and full each track is.
Sure, songs like "White Knuckles" may have a slight mono-genre, Imagine Dragons energy. Chalk it up to its combo of electro beats, synth pads and, once again, tiered harmonies. But there's a reason Imagine Dragons are fucking huge. They feed something primal that large swaths of people, even snobby music critics, can't deny is satisfying.
Imagine Dragons have award-winning, platinum-level songwriting teams synthesizing their hits. Bierman and Day write much better music than what the Las Vegas band cranks out and venture much further beyond.
Stream Up Till Morning on all major platforms.