We all have those things we find irresistible The opposite (or same) sex, money, a certain type of food, nicotine, alcohol, thrill seeking experiences…they pull at us with a gravitas that we struggle to understand. They make us do strange things, say weird shit, or generally perform in a manner that might be unlike “the norm”.
“You’ve got to have some respect for the darkness of your friend, if you want to live in hope of ever being shown any mercy” Eilam Wolman – “Cheap Talk”
Some of those things are innocuous and can’t cause any more harm than a stubbed toe. Reckless, exuberant music is one of those seemingly benign things that I find irresistible. I loathe the melancholy, the thunderstruck, and the depressing ballad. I empathize with music too much. I don’t wanna be depressed because I listened to a depressing song, so my love for music is always geared towards finding something a little less raw emotionally and a little more raw period.
That probably makes no sense, but it feels right. Can’t shake your ass if you got no beat. You have to have it in your ears or in your heart first. Eilam Wolman and Roy Chen, the duo behind Manicorn…it appears they have it in their souls.
I’ve listened to We’re Manicorn non-stop for almost two solid days. Rarely do I devote that kind of time to an album. I can’t. There are too many irons in the fire, both in the real world and in the inbox of Sirens of Decay for me to linger too long on a single album. It’s easy to throw a bunch of singles into a playlist that you can stop when you feel like it. It’s harder to devote 40 minutes or more to one album several times over so that you can make an actual judgement on it without feeling like a troll.
“An Idea” is the first track of the album, and if nothing else it caught my attention. I wasn’t sold by any means, but I was intrigued. It was when “Vegetable Life” kicked in that I felt that familiar pull I mentioned earlier. A bit later in my listening session, somewhere around the five minute mark of the track “Last Song”, my wife walked in and said, “What is that?”
I thought about it for a minute, trying to figure out exactly what it was before answering. “I don’t know, but it’s good,” I finally replied.
Two days later I still don’t know, but I’ll endeavor to explain what it feels like. We’re Manicorn is tenacious, cowboy-like in it’s ability to stare sensibility in the face and thumb it’s nose, forging a different and often unexpected path that reminds me of my childhood and choose-your-own-adventure novels. You may consider that an insult in the year two thousand and thirteen. Hold those horses, though, partner. Reach back in the recesses of that “grown-up” mind of yours and consider how you felt about those same books when you were a child. I’m betting you loved them whether you admit it or not.
I did. I could make up my own ending to anything, could make the ending be anything. Of course I loved it. Wolman and Chen make up their own endings eleven times on We’re Manicorn – you need only listen to the sprawling, romantic “Last Song” to see what I mean. You think you’re getting that good slow burn. You know, the one that’s so tried and true, engrained in rock lore and shoegaze anthems. Not so fast, my friend. The last thirty seconds of this track hit you like a derailed train, and the sound is quite similar. You might want to remain seated at all times during the playback.
“You wanted to play but you’re scared of the ball. So? Doesn’t mean it’s time to fold.” Eilam Wolman – “Last Song”
Eleven tracks worth of reggae-rock-pop-meets-du-wop-shoegaze make for a hell of a rollercoaster. There’s a track called “Wild As A Dingo” and it’s as
wild intense as you’d expect. My second listen through the album this track prompted me to ponder if Manicorn was actually some long form code for “manic”. There’s few better words to describe the fury and persistence of Roy Chen’s percussion married as it is to Wolman’s croon turned snarl turned battle rap. One of my favorites on t he album, “Cheap Talk”, is one of the catchiest tracks on the album. It also showcases the sudden vocal shifts of the Manicorn frontman and how he can really lift a song to a higher level. The sudden squeal of the choral vox over that bluesy riff is so strange when set against the laid back groove of the verse. Somehow, it works anyway, which is the point I’ve been trying to make about this band and this album all along. Even when it shouldn’t work, it does.
Tucked away in the “Bonus Track” of We’re Manicorn, Wolman proclaims “true, true, sometimes, I feel like Bobby Boucher.” It’s by far and away the most reggae influenced track on the album and not every band can name drop Bobby Boucher and remain legitimate. That said, the song feels like it came straight off the cuff, like it really wasn’t meant to be there and it is actually a bonus. Do you suppose Bobby Boucher ever pondered why bands go the canned route instead of stepping on some tropes and making some noise? Maybe not, but I like to think he did. He was a smart dude, despite his oafish looks. He won at foosball. Manicorn wins at the spirit of rock’n’roll.
I DO ALMOST ALL MY OWN STUNTS…in the writing of this album review. We’re Manicorn is varied and upbeat. It sounds great and it’s fun. We are still allowed to have that when we listen to music, I promise. I’ll write you a hall pass.
Stream this beauty below. Download the entire thing free @ the Manicorn bandcamp.