Elektra Records has announced its signing of the acclaimed artist Fences. The Seattle-based artist – known to friends and family as Christopher Mansfield – will release his much-anticipated second album, entitled “THE INTERNAL DIVING BOARD,” later this year.
Produced by Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Of Monsters and Men, Modest Mouse), “THE INTERNAL DIVING BOARD” sees Mansfield evolving his idiosyncratic and ambitious brand of folk-flavored indie rock to a fuller palette including tough basslines, synths and Mansfield’s trademark vocal delivery. The new album also features accompaniment by some of Mansfield’s musician-friends, including his frequent on-stage cohorts Ben Greenspan – who also co-wrote material on the album – and Lindsey Starr, Death Cab For Cutie drummer Jason McGerr, and rapper Macklemore, whom Fences has collaborated with in the past. In addition to co-writing “Ten Thousand Hours” on “THE HEIST,” the debut full length from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Mansfield is also the featured vocalist on duo’s critically acclaimed track “Otherside (featuring Fences)” which currently boasts over 23 Million views on YouTube.
In announcing the signing, Elektra President Jeff Castelaz said: Fences make music that stops me in my tracks. They’ve made a record that fits the Elektra credo perfectly: deeply personal, evocative songwriting wrapped in stunning production. This record takes the listener on a long journey narrated by Chris Mansfield.”
Mansfield stated, “The legacy of Elektra is stunning. Artists like Bjork and The Cure didn’t just release albums, they shaped culture. The current roster is no exception. When Elektra extended their hand, I didn’t think twice. It is an honor to join a label that promotes fearlessness.”
“THE INTERNAL DIVING BOARD” follows Fences’ extraordinary self-titled debut “FENCES,” which was co-produced by Sara Quin of Tegan & Sara and greeted with unanimous critical praise for Mansfield’s intimate, introspective pop writing upon its 2010 arrival. SPIN named “FENCES” as one of its “10 Best Albums You Might Have Missed This Year,” applauding its “sorrowful, self-deprecating, and charming pop-folk songs” for “(flaunting) the assured hooks and astute observations of instant minor classics.”
NYLON hailed the album for “(bringing) together (Elliott) Smith’s delicately wistful melodies and Morrissey’s beautiful melancholia.” Mansfield is “a slacker songwriter of some note,” declared the Dallas Observer, with the Washington Post commending his “weary voice, finger-picked guitar, and pained-love lyrics.” “Mansfield drives a brutally direct heartbreak into the broken, dilapidated slats of a warm but bitter pop,” raved the Austin Chronicle, while Seattle’s own The Stranger praised “FENCES” for its “thoughtfully crafted pop songs and beautiful acoustic ballads,” noting that “soon, with songs this strong, (Mansfield) won’t just look like a rock star – he’ll actually be one.”
Fences first got underway during Mansfield’s stint in Boston, a time spent studying at Berklee College of Music as well as performing and perfecting his haunting songs. He soon relocated to the Pacific Northwest and in 2008, self-released his nascent Fences recordings as the now exceedingly rare “ULTIMATE PUKE EP.” The collection earned copious attention from in-the-know fans, ultimately finding its way north into the hands of Sara Quin, one half of Canadian indie-folk icons, Tegan & Sara. Quin fell in thrall to Fences’ intuitive, jazz-inflected pop and invited Mansfield to record his full-length debut at her Vancouver studio.
“FENCES” proved the fullest realization of Mansfield’s sonic vision thus far (much of which he credits to Quin’s collaborative co-production). Songs such as “Girls With Accents” and the country-fired “Sadie” reveal a lyrically gifted artist as adept at complex, creative arrangements as he is at simple, straightforward songwriting.
A charismatic and engaging performer, Fences has also earned high praise as a live act, both solo and with the crack band he gathers to give full life to his stunning songs. In addition to countless headline gigs, Fences has toured alongside such like-minded artists as Against Me! and The Head And The Heart, while also stealing stages at major American festivals including Lollapalooza and the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.