by Regana Alicka
Next time you’re in one of those heartbroken #shmoods but Usher’s “U Got It Bad” isn’t speaking to the depth of your pain in the way it usually does, consider giving Mannequin Pussy’s Romantic a spin instead. While the Philly band’s 11-track sophomore album clocks in at an unusually short 17 minutes long, it is quite dense -- few albums of standard length even attempt to address the range of complex emotions that Mannequin Pussy astutely unpacks in 17 minutes and without any filler. Over the course of Romantic, the mood shifts from aching vulnerability to foaming aggression frequently and with no forewarning. The listener is spiritually guided through it all by vocalist Marisa Dabice, our Virgil in the Inferno that is navigating one’s mental space after heartbreak, whose raw and emotionally perceptive lyrics become even more penetrating through her dynamic delivery that can instantaneously snap from sweet pop-punk croons to maximum power screams. A recurring motif in Mannequin Pussy’s work is the juxtaposition of feelings of chaos with moments of clarity by rapidly switching between disparate moods. In “Pledge,” Dabice snarls “No matter what you do, they’re watching you” over dissonant feedback sounds until she’s suddenly singing the word “baby” in a saccharine voice over upbeat surf-rock guitars. In “Denial,” Dabice airs out feelings of self-doubt tinged with a bit of imposter syndrome when she sings “When I close my eyes I’m never really by myself/ All the strangers that adore me put me on a shelf.” These lines are immediately followed by a markedly less doomed and even hopeful sounding “Pick yourself up, baby/ Everything’s gonna be fine/ But if not, so what?/ You’ll get it the next time.” Romantic, in its cataclysm of sounds and emotions, creates a mood that is seductive to inhabit for those of us who like a little bit of pain since it is simultaneously as full and warm as the feeling of falling in love and as hollow and anguished as the feeling of getting dumped.
by Nick Peters
by Marty Gatto
Indie rock band STRFKR just dropped a new album called Being No One, Going Nowhere. It’s an introspective collection of songs that at times prove to be much colder than most of their previous work.
The album starts off strong with the track “Tape Machine.” It has an electronic beat with a nice background that carries it very well, and it uses funky, spacey rhythms and soft transitions to keep it flowing smoothly.
Following “Tape Machine” is “Satellite.” “Satellite” encompasses everything that is good about the album; it has catchy base guitar throughout, which sucks you in and keeps you listening, and utilizes low-key vocals and electronic elements to create a reflective, empty feeling that still has strong rhythm.
The album goes on to include “Never Ever,” with its powerful chorus and beautiful hooks, and “Something Ain’t Right,” with its mixture of electronic and 80’s music beat and its contrast between heavy background and light, airy vocals.
“Open Your Eyes,” “In The End,” and “When I’m With You” are notable tracks of the second half of the album, and all include soft, raspy vocals against intense beats.
The only true criticism I have of the album is exemplified in “Dark Days.” “Dark Days” is a good song; however, it definitely draws from clichés seen before in their music, as well as in other music. This is occasionally true of other songs on the album as well.
Lastly comes the final track “Being No One, Going Nowhere.” This is the album’s namesake, and it is easy to see why. The track has such a despondent, reflective tone, as if all is lost, yet the base beat, guitar, and electronic elements move it forward against this empty, hopeless tone. The sadness contained in this sole track is exactly what makes the entire album unique and really worth listening to.
by Luis Gomez
Avenged Sevenfold have hit the “because of course” point in their careers. They’re now basically big enough that in releasing The Stage, they dropped one single and then just decided a week later to release the whole damn thing, because of course. The last track is fifteen minutes long and samples Neil deGrasse Tyson talkin’ bout space, because of course. The album hops between like five different arena rock bands without becoming one of them entirely, because of course. That’s just who Avenged Sevenfold are. The perennial metalcore-turned-metal-turned-????? band dropped their latest album after a live concert from the roof of the Capitol Records building that they streamed on their Facebook page. Oh, also the record’s a concept album about AI and going to space and finding aliens. Because of course it is. Here’s the thing about A7X – they’re leaning into their own perception so hard they get like eighteen bonus points for still keeping it going. Like, they’re still running around calling themselves M Shadows and Zacky Vengeance and Johnny Christ and Synyster fucking Gates. Come on, man. You can’t call this anything but amazing, quite honestly. This is another good album by a good band who know exactly who they are, and I love them for it.
by Tommy Gerity