Mannequin Pussy: “Romantic” Album Review

Written By: Ethan Griggs

My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com

Few hardcore punk bands have as much variety, eloquence, and grace as Mannequin Pussy, who hail from Philadelphia. Like their Philly-based contemporaries Sheer Mag, the group creates punk music with a feminine edge to it – but where Sheer Mag likes to stay in the classic-rock fast lane, Mannequin Pussy goes over the yellow line and narrowly dodge the cars on the other side of the road… and sometimes crash into them head-on. The eleven nuggets of punk on their seventeen-minute-long sophomore effort, Romantic, shows that the genre has finer strokes than most people expect from it. The album goes from breakneck hardcore to the Paramore-esque title track, and then all the way back again on the pulse-quickening “Ten” – and that’s all in less than five minutes.

Another obvious reminder this record gives is that of two bands, White Lung and Perfect Pussy, who are both able to pack earth-shattering guitar, drums and a good melody into the same song. The companion tracks “Everything” and “Anything” on Romantic are representative of this – “Don’t you come in here with your thin lips/You live to criticize, I can see it in your eyes/Don’t you try and lie or mistreat me/I want this more than anything/I want it more than you.” Like most other bands of this variety, singer Marisa Dabice is dead set on letting you know that she’s not fucking around.

 

The self-produced debut, recorded at Big Mama’s Recording in Philly, also has a couple of shoegaze-like gems on it. “Hey, Steven” sounds like something Bradford Cox could have conjoured in the early Deerhunter days, albeit a bit heavier – more like Thee Oh Sees, perhaps. The single “Emotional High” sounds like classic 90’s alt-rock reminiscent of Hole and Garbage, before the next track “Pledge” marries the grunge-aesthetic to the screamo of modern day. Even on the album’s more gleefully upbeat tracks, the classic punk undertones of disappointment and destruction remain intact. On “Denial”, Dabice sings (no screams), “ I want to feel the Earth/It’s crushingness as it wraps around my neck”, reinforcing the feeling of imminent threat for our freedom and our planet – we want to disappear into the Earth itself.

 

One thing that is remarkable about this album is the tightness of the band behind Dabice’s relentless rage (and guitar): Thanasi Paul on guitar, Colins Regisford on bass, and drummer Kaleen Reading make the impact of this punchy punk music stay with you long after it’s gone. With a sound as diverse as their own, it will be interesting to see where Mannequin Pussy goes from here – but by all standards, with two great albums in the bag, they’re off to a solid start.


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