The best way to enjoy Fresh Rot, the new album from Chicago's pysch-garage bandits Mannequin Men, is to suck down each dose separate from the other. Don't necessarily listen to all of it at once. Run a shuffle mix with Blondie, New York Dolls, or Alice Cooper. During some future live show, lead singer Kevin Richard will transition from "Everybody Has Loved Her" into "Under My Wheels" and you read it here first)! By following this easy step you will unlock the maddening power from within the Mannequin Men.
To call a band "fundamentally strong" should not sound as boring as it does. These guys get a lot right; it's just a very similar sounding right. With a limitless battery of big bottom drums, bratty guitars, and sing-a-long choruses, Mannequin Men spit up a mouthful of solid, straightforward rock. The standouts are only undone by their surrounding brother songs, which all bear a striking resemblance to their more successful siblings. Similar beat, identical pace, same vocal style.
"Pigpen" is the lesser version of the superior "The Boys" and aligning them next to each other is a disservice to both songs. It gets to be too much and that's unfortunate because most of these songs deserve to stand out. When they do use contrast to their advantage, Man Men inject jolts of energy into Fresh Rot such as in the closing track. Listening straight through, songs like "We Are Free" make you wonder, "where has that been hiding?"
Even though I'm a strong opponent against this insane-yet widely and unknowingly supported theory that a rock band isn't a great band until they make their "ballad", and even though this isn't a "ballad" per se, "22nd Century" is 1000% kick ass. Not that an indie band would want this, but these are the types of songs you'd love to smash face to a freshman chick, drunk on her first pull of moonshine at a high-school dance. That's a compliment.
Written By Phillip Mottaz