JuxtaposeMy Fingers! My Brain! Records
By Cole Faulkner
If you live in Canada, then the prospect of a band named Mansbridge will make you chuckle at the very least. There’s an ongoing joke in which a foreigner (typically identified as an American) asks a Canadian about the location of the famous “Peterman’s Bridge,” not knowing that “Peter Mansbridge” is an iconic national CBC news broadcaster that seems to have been around since Confederation. It’s a silly little joke that spawned around the same time as Rick Mercer’s “Talking With Americans” comedy sketch, and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s somewhat of the punchline.
But I digress. Regardless of origin, Montreal punk act Mansbridge has a lot more going for it besides a possible inside joke for a name. As their debut full length, Juxtapose, makes clear, the rough-rooted pop-punk four piece defines itself as a fiercely political act with a pointed social conscious. Musically, tracks like opener “Single Lens Reflux” land halfway between the sloppy pop-punk of The Challenged and clean execution of 90’s style Mest, while tracks like “Don’t Shake My Hand” feel vocally more abrasive, with a rawer, more Cobra Skulls-esque edge. Accusatory without apology, the band employs a combination of self and community critique. For the opening moments of “The Grind Of This Machine,” the band’s vocals projects a snarky image of internal conflict through the lines, “now we’ve all been exposed to the grind of this machine, more or less aware of what that actually means, the abyss of bitterness, the cynics preach about life, but I’d rather believe in a temporary imposed self exile.” There’s a sense of self-implication that does well in framing Mansbridge more than just another player in a finger pointing counterculture.
The bulk of the songs retain the fast paced, high energy melodic punk structure setting them closer to the Fat Wreck Chords school than the Hopeless Records crowd. Songs like “From Sean, With Love,” “Hotel Canmore” and “Straight For The Knees” power ahead with oodles of catchy choruses, layered harmonies forceful, poppy riffs. The worst that can be said about Juxtapose’s impressive ten tracks is that a few tracks tend to bleed together without less effect (i.e. “Metastatic”). That being said, they never demand to be skipped, and tide listeners over to identifiable standouts.
Mansbridge has produced a fine example of a pop-punk debut worth digging into. With members having accrued experience from their previous time in Farler’s Fury, it’s little surprise that Juxtapose feels so finely polished. Armed with a social conscious and punk rock mindset, Mansbridge is ready to take on the world – whether the world is ready or not.