The El Mansouris got their start last year with a series of three performances in art galleries around their home base of Washington D.C. Listening to their forthcoming self-titled debut album, you can hear how these songs would shine in a live setting: They’re performative and outwardly projecting, and the band — a collaboration between local D.C. musicians who all have their own projects (including Margot MacDonald, Young Rapids, and Cigarette) — has a knack for spinning plates that’s reminiscent of Braids and the Dirty Projectors. On lead single “The Greys,” the El Mansouris build to a controlled cacophony, with abrasive harmonies and prickling guitars serving as a foundation for their epic sweep. The band’s Alex Braden explains what the song’s about:
“The Greys” started as a portrait of a good but struggling friend, witnessing them become less recognizable, less familiar, more dark and distant… and trying to hang on to that relationship. The song went on to deal with neighborhood change—gentrification, redevelopment, whatever you want to call it— watching DC get flipped so quickly and trying to understand the role we play in that, for good or for bad, and the privilege associated with being able to sit around and write songs about it. And with the recent election and the mass of new neighbors it will bring, a lot of us are understanding a little bit more what it can be like to have your home redefined by newcomers.
Listen below, and watch a live video for another track of theirs called “Walden.”
01 “Cat Calls”
03 “The Greys”
08 “Precious Metals”