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Scary Mansion

Make Me Cry

(Talitres; US: 2 Mar 2010; UK: 1 Mar 2010)

Leah Hayes’ anti-folk roots are showingon Scary Mansion’s eight-song—nine if you count its hidden track—album, Make Me Cry.  Singing with a breathy bleat that emotes and quavers like a much more subdued Sinead O’Connor, Hayes’ voice imparts emotion and meaning where her lyrics sorely lack. Scary Mansion’s obtuse, repetitive lyrics don’t really say much of anything, coming off as a pretentious depress-o-fest that Sylvia Plath might have had cranking in the background before she stuck her head in the oven. Sure, there are a few lyrical gems scattered throughout the album. The introspective “On My Mind” fleshes out complete thoughts, spouting wishes for the world born of a sincere sense of empathy.  On “Yer Grief” Hayes sings that it “is no joke”, and states “Your family tree / Will eventually fall and hit the ground” on “1%”. However pithy those one-liners may be, on the whole, Scary Mansion falls prey to a sloppy lyricism that ascribes to the school of “If I repeat this enough, it will sound deep.”

Conversely, the musicianship on Make Me Cry is impressive.  Scary Mansion’s enchanting musicality is precisely the sort of thing needed to elevate it from its lyrical doldrums.  It’s simple yet complex and richly-layered at the same time. Hayes’ accompaniment on a strange, three-stringed Native American instrument known only as the “thunderstick” weaves between banjo-like ramblings and Weezer-esque whirrings when plugged in.  Bassist Bradley Banks and drummer Ben Shapiro round out the trio to create compact, amplified emo-folk with surprisingly lush instrumentation.


Lana Cooper has written various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2006. She's also written news stories for EDGE Media, a nationwide network devoted to LGBT news and issues. In 2013, she wrote her first novel, Bad Taste In Men, described as one part chick lit for tomboys and one part Freaks and Geeks for kids who came of age in the mid-'90s. She lives in Philadelphia and enjoys spending time with her family, reading comic books, and avoiding eye contact with strangers on public transportation. A graduate of Temple University, Cooper doesn't usually talk about herself in the first person, but makes an exception when writing an author bio.

Tagged as: la laque | leah hayes
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