Sister Mantos - Ladyboy EP

Owain Paciuszko 27/11/2010

Rating: 4/5

Cowbell opens this new record from Los Angelino Sister Mantos, followed by a slinky bassline that aptly fits the opening lyric; 'It's just the way that you walk.' As sultry brass joins the laidback carnival-vibe, turning the track into an elegantly sexy and jazzy pop ballad with Mantos sounding strangely like George Michael at times. Compared to the brooding electro atmospherics of Mantos' earlier LP Tough Love or the Fands of Hate, this is a straightforward kind of pop tune, but none the less enjoyable.

Partwild throws more into the mix, sounding like a number of 8-bit games being played simultaneously over a dancefloor groove, erratic drumming and reverb-drenched vocals telling a tale laced with a note of bitterness and the desolation of a seedy nightclub crawling towards the early hours. She's Got You begins like a 1950s lovesong juxtaposed brilliantly against a twitchy electronic drumline, whilst Mantos sings with a strange note of despondency in the distance. This EP seems to be allowing Mantos to throw around a few stylistic ideas to see what sticks, occasionally it'd be good to have Mantos' vocal pushed up in the mix, but there's a depth and richness to the arrangment of the track that sometimes it's the mood of the piece that works best, even beyond an ability to quite make out what Mantos is singing about.

Things are more traditionally disco-oriented with handclaps straight out of Kool and the Gang's Ladies Night (one of my all-time favourite disco tunes!), here coupled with more sombre synth lines and a stuttering electronic bass sound, lending SHPESHFTR a very 1980s action movie feel, whilst Mantos' vocals swing between whispering, deep Echo and the Bunnymen-like drawls and the aforementioned pop cooing. It's a nifty showcase of Mantos' ability to draw influences together and create neat little pop packages that stir up a sense of nostalgia without sounding derivative. The record closes with a remix of SHPESHFTR that pushes the tracks' sentiment of 'Just because you were born a boy, doesn't mean you can't be a girl' (and vice versa) to the fore, with a instantly danceable beat, gibbering atmospherics and a slightly raised tempo.

Sister Mantos is proving to be a master of contemporary dancefloor tracks with a smart nod to the best artists of the 60s through 90s. Considering this EP is absolutely free to download you've got no excuse for not prancing around your bedroom as if it were your own private nightclub.

LADYBOY EP and more by Sister Mantos