Masts of Manhatta - Tracy Bonham
Masts of Manhatta Image
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 8 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: Tracy Bonham’s career trajectory seems to run in reverse; with each record, she gets riskier, coming a long, long way from the bottled-up furious angst of her ‘90s alt-rock staple “Mother Mother.” Masts of Manhatta, her fourth album and first since 2005’s Blink the Brightest, ups the ante from that haunting record by accentuating its elliptical turns, its songs dodging conventional routes in favor of left turns. Bonham is assisted greatly by Beck guitarist Smokey Hormel and his trio, who lend her songs earthiness and art, giving this heft and welcome unpredictability. To an extent, Bonham lays out her album’s thesis on “We Moved Our City to the Country,” a knowing satire of hipsters fleeing the urban jungle for faux authenticity, where she feels the pull of the two extremes as evidenced by how her sawing violin contrasts with the cabaret shuffle of Hormel’s group. Masts of Manhatta walks this line throughout, sometimes getting quite a bit livelier, sometimes indulging in decidedly moody textures, always twisting just slightly from the expected, making for a record that’s quite intriguing upon the first listen and better on repeats, where the songs begin to dig in and all the textures gain resonance. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine Expand
  • Record Label: Engine Room Recordings
  • Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 8
  2. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. The music straddles that urban/rural divide with tasty jazz-roots arrangements by Beck's ex-guitarist Smokey Hormel. But it's Bonham's wryly literate lyrics that bring you along for the ride.
  2. One or two of the tracks sound a bit forced in their arrangements, and I can only too easliy envisage a studio listing in which individual songs are prefixed by descriptions : (the Polka number, the Dylan number, the BRMC number, the one Tom Waits wrote, etc.) but this doesn't detract from the album, if anything it only enhances it as, with a significant part of the albums production process actually audible, and with the musicianship never less than wholly professional, it's difficult to find actual flaws in the project.
  3. Masts of Manhatta walks this line [the pull of the two extremes] throughout, sometimes getting quite a bit livelier, sometimes indulging in decidedly moody textures, always twisting just slightly from the expected, making for a record that's quite intriguing upon the first listen and better on repeats, where the songs begin to dig in and all the textures gain resonance.
  4. Like all her work, Masts is a grower, a collection that deepens on repeated listenings and is very nearly the equal of Bonham's best work.
  5. There's no adolescent angst on her fourth disc, a gorgeous celebration of adult love.
  6. For a record that, thematically, trades in adaptation to new environments, Masts of Manhatta boasts real structural depth, as Bonham finds an effective balance of contemporary folk and modern rock.
  7. She has always been a skilled composer, but while there are some great songs on Masts of Manhatta, it's not a great album.

See all 8 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Dec 30, 2011
    10
    I am a sucker for Tracy's voice so she could be singing about the nutritional value of a box of cereal and I would like it, While her lyrics are better than that, I would say that is the only weak point of this album, she has and has always had (in my mind at least) some very odd lyrics.Musically it is diverse and for the most part, highly enjoyable,with a real killer of a song in "Big Red Heart" which by itself makes up for any of the lesser songs. Collapse