Mini Mansions’s latest offering, The Great Pretenders, is darker, contemporary pop music, full of eccentric twists and delightful, unexpected turns. This 11-song long player represents natural evolution: refinement or increased sophistication of the band’s sound from its eponymous debut. The rhythm section’s instrumentation challenges a typical rock setup without artifice. Musicianship is overall superb, with parts played to serve and expand the songs. Much-lauded guests Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) and Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys) round out the sound on “Vertigo” and “Any Emotions”, respectively. Lyrics relate a pensive, introspective message. Tough topics tackled include existentialism (“Any Emotions”), religion (“The End, Again”), relationships (“Death is a Girl”, “Creeps”), and unhappiness (“Freakout!”). Dual vocals rich in harmony remain a prominent band strength. A pleasant listen from start to finish, this melodic and musical album represents a welcome change of pace for pop music fans seeking something just a little different.