Fences is the musical confession booth for singer-songwriter Chris Mansfield. The eponymous debut from the Seattle musician is a sparse and melodically intelligent batch of self-deprecating, bummer tunes delivered in Mansfield's sweet and unobtrusive voice. While I'm most certainly a fan of straightforward, emotional honesty, it's awfully easy to start swimming in a sea of cliché when selling the eternal fuck-up persona, and Mansfield often jumps into that water with both feet.

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Although I found myself rolling my eyes at Mansfield's heavy-handed, overtly earnest lyrics, it's easy to see the appeal and continued rise in Fences' popularity. I definitely had a difficult time shaking album standouts "The Same Tattoos" "Girls with Accents," and "Boys Around Here" even after repeated Jesus Lizard cleanses. I obviously fall outside the target demographic for this band and am blissfully unaware of what the new crop of teen television dramas looks like, but I certainly wouldn't be shocked to hear Fences' tunes playing on the soundtrack to a devastating teen dilemma. More power to 'em. My assumption is that you'll be hearing plenty from Mansfield and company in the very near future.

Fences plays the Top Hat Sunday, July 31, at 10 PM with Mansions. $10/$8 advance.

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