Mannequin Pussy, Romantic

Matthew Voracek

Mannequin Pussy, Romantic

Punk is a tool for frustration and anger against the establishment. Arm yourself with a couple of chords, some pummeling tempo, a well-pitched scream, and open fire on your target. For too many years, those angry screams have been too often supplanted by disaffected whines of what passes for counterculture rock. New voices with relevant frustrations are getting attention and growing louder. Add the fury of Philadelphia’s Mannequin Pussy to that resounding chorus. Their latest album Romantic aims for punk antagonism with an immediacy, going beyond the trials of relationships for deeper, more fearful concerns. Loneliness, the need for acceptance, and the search for one’s self all get packaged into an eleven-track, seventeen minute assault.

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“Kiss” starts Romantic with seventy-five seconds of turmoil, acting as a dark antithesis of when two pairs of lips meet. That act can be unwanted, unsettling, or an attack. Frontperson Marisa Dabice is not having any of it as she shrieks with a palpable mixture of fury and fear while the instruments collide into a destructive finish. The coin flip of Mannequin Pussy is a keen ability to incorporate a deft hook with their nihilistic tendencies. Romantic’s title track takes an up-down tempo and a loud-quiet-loud grunge signature to drive the album’s main event. Dabice intones “You would sleep with me if you could do it comfortably/ You’re so sweet…” with a whisper cracking under the weight of her contempt. The crescendos here are flooded with the emotions of lost love, snarled and raving, but most importantly filled with righteous empowerment.

Such is the pattern woven firmly into Romantic. The indecipherable, breakneck rant on “Ten” tests your mettle so much that Mannequin Pussy can even sound downright positive on the pining exuberance of “Emotional High”. One can picture the bouncing of their live audience as they sing along to that ode to an uneven friendship. Grinding no-wave bitterness drills into the listener on “Pledge”, then bursts out with an alt-pop channeling on “Denial”. The anxious gasps ring out “At night/ Sometimes/ My thoughts collide/ My body shakes/ I feel so separated” yet are grounded by a motivational riff and indelible chorus. It is this combination of urgency and efficacy that places Mannequin Pussy in league with acts like Speedy Ortiz, Pill, or even Perfect Pussy. With this current brand of punk blazing fresh trails, the future is clearer to change the rules and challenge convention.

Live Dates
Nov 9: Powerhouse – Oklahoma City, OK
Nov 10: Spinster Records – Dallas, TX
Nov 12: Bam – Brownsville, TX
Nov 13: Cheer Up Charlie’s – Austin, TX
Nov 15: Rips Bar – Phoenix, AZ
Nov 16: The Hideout – San Diego, CA
Nov 17: Junior High Collective – Hollywood, CA
Nov 18: The Hi Hat – Los Angeles, CA
Nov 19: Oakland Secret – Oakland, CA
Nov 20: The Holland Project – Reno, NV
Nov 23: Hi-Dive – Denver, CO
Nov 25: Milk Run – Omaha, NE
Nov 26: Eagles Club – Milwaukee, WI
Nov 27: Subterranean – Chicago, IL
Nov 30: Spit Fam House – Syracuse, NY
Dec 1: SPEAKING VOLUMES – Burlington, VT
Dec 2: Haverford College – Haverford, PA
Dec 3: Brooklyn Night Bazaar – Brooklyn, NY
Dec 4: Everybody Hits – Philadelphia, PA
Jan 16: PhilaMOCA – Philadelphia, PA

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