Mansun: Attack Of The Grey Lantern

attackofthegreylanternMansun’s debut effort is a Britpop album revered in the UK, so of course I hate it. At my ever-advancing age, I’ve given up on ever reconciling what it is about this snot-nosed whine that so appeals to Brits. I mean, they know they’re wrong, right? It’s all just some elaborate hoax they’re playing on us after giving us The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd, just for starters, right? Right?!

I don’t know. I feel like I’ve come to the point where I can hear what they like about it, and almost step back and review it somewhat dispassionately under those conditions. And when I do that, this is quite good for its genre–it’s got some very well-sonically-crafted moments where the layers of sissy guitars, keys, and whiny vox mix perfectly with the oddball sound effects they’ve added here and there–but that’s not what this blog is about.

On this blog, I can’t get past “Taxloss,” the cryptic reference to George Harrison’s “Taxman,” whose lyrics (“Taxman”‘s) almost get forgiven because the song is so awesome. But in Mansun’s hands the gesture loses its mathematical poetry to nonsensical, directly insulting lyrics delivered in a whiny tone in a song that stretches itself twice as long as it needs to be for a breakdown that features mostly static. On this blog I can’t get past the horrid whiny penultimate tracks of the album, “Egg Shaped Fred” and “Dark Mavis,” where we’re treated to the ultimate in whine and a song that’s closer to nine minutes than eight with few bright spots on either end.

If I could get past those things I’d tell you about how four of the first six tracks are quite nice, especially the only song with some real muscle on the entire album, “Stripper Vicar.” I’d rave about album closer, “An Open Letter To The Lyrical Trainspotter,” which has a brilliant chorus about how “the lyrics aren’t supposed to mean that much/they’re just a vehicle for a lovely voice” and wonderful Syd Barrett-esque sound collages and sparse instrumentation. But on this blog I’m mostly frustrated that the best track is just something that sounds like an afterthought and may have even served as a hidden track back in the day.

Really Like: “An Open Letter To The Lyrical Trainspotter”
Like: “The Chad Who Loved Me,” “Mansun’s Only Love Song,” “Wide Open Space,” “Stripper Vicar,” “Naked Twister”
“You Who Do You Hate,” “Disgusting,” “She Makes My Nose Bleed,”
“Egg Shaped Fred,” “Dark Mavis”
Song Notes: After the jump

  1. The Chad Who Loved Me – well I guess the interpretation of this song’s title changed after the 2000 election, huh?
  2. Mansun’s Only Love Song –
  3. Taxloss – not sure if it’s an ode to or a snub of George Harrison’s “Taxman.” If it’s the former it’s nauseating. If it’s the latter I can maybe get into it. But still, is that static scratchy supposed to be there? And this does not need to be seven minutes
  4. You Who Do You Hate – Kind of a half-written thing here. It’s pretty good, but could turn into more but doesn’t. I’m tempted to give it a Like during its build, but then that just peters out
  5. Wide Open Space –
  6. Stripper Vicar – This is legitimately really good. It’s about a vicar who strips. “When the vicar strips he gets away with it”
  7. Disgusting – cool start
  8. She Makes My Nose Bleed – stupid title. it’s a reference to how she’s so great she’s like an angel. almost a like.
  9. Naked Twister – I end up humming “Wide Open Space” to a lot of these
  10. Egg Shaed Fred – so whiny
  11. Dark Mavis – 8:36! really like the start tho
  12. An Open Letter To The Lyrical Trainspotter

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