Saturday, May 23, 2009

Klepto Review from way back when...

The following is a post I made a couple of years ago on the now long gone Mansunite.com site. Suzi kindly recovered the contents for me so a big shout out to her. I'll add a further post on reflection once I've read it again.

Kleptomania review (long)

It's probably not going to make much sense, but I felt like I needed to write something at least. I guess it's a way of thanking the band. So it was that many moons ago Paul Draper said that the aim of the next Mansun record would be to capture the band''s live spirit and one band split, a fans petition, much waiting, gnashing of teeth and a 3-cd opus later, I think he''s achieved exactly that. I also think it''s fair to say that it wasn''t quite how he envisaged it all taking place. No matter. The dark monster that was the final days and weeks of Mansun has been given a life, and Paul Draper, like a latter day Frankenstein was the one to engage the electricity and send it out onto the streets.

The first question. How do you rate a monster that was never meant to live? Well, I think you have to test out how scary it is - does it look right - does it sound right - is it supposed to be scary or do you feel pity for it? Is it so bad that it makes you laugh? One leg might be blue; one might be green; one arm shorter than the other, but does the whole add up to more than the sum of the parts? OK, I''m dragging out this whole monster thing, but I hope you get what I''m saying. Looking back at their previous long players you can instantly say that Attack Of The Grey Lantern was a beautifully proportioned, elegant superhero that lived up to their billing. Six was the Grey Lantern's bastard child. Deconstruction then reconstruction to something so powerful and transfixing it's simply impossible not to be impressed and moved. But then there was Little Kix.

Looking back I think I'd describe it as lots of really good parts, but when you put them together it just doesn't look right. Taken in isolation most songs are as strong as anything they have done before, but put them together and it's like asking someone to eat a whole chocolate cheesecake. After the first slice or two it gets sickly and hard going unless you are that way inclined. But I digress...

The second question is that of corruption. We've all heard the live songs, and so many times that they become the default. The fact that these songs were only works in progress corrupts the way we view them recorded as the band wanted them to sound. If you have fallen in love with an image, meeting the person in real life hardly ever matches up. How do I ensure that thoughts on the songs doesn't cloud what is on the record? Luckily from my point of view I enjoyed the live songs, but never really loved them. They were just, well, Pepsi. I was always waiting for the real thing.

I guess I should actually try and say something about the songs. Look at the parts, see if the monster works. I''ve had the music a little while now and tried to let it not become so new to me before I review it. Also, I''m not going to comment on the demo's / live versions, just the new stuff.

Getting Your Way

This starts off in familiar Mansun territory.. abstract sounds, bits of rhythm, all in all quite industrial. Then something I wasn''t expecting. I''d heard the live version but it was never this powerful. The bass line. The song''s heart and soul is the bass line with it's instant hook. I wasn''t prepared for how good the chorus was going to be either. A real marker to say that Mansun''s new monster had legs.


Slipping Away

Again another tune I''d heard before. It''s Mansun rocking out, not exceptional but a meat and potato song that sits nicely next to Getting Your Way.


Keep Telling Myself

This song is great. An instant Mansun classic with a great vocal and underneath, lush instrumentation. Mansun's judicial use of guitar effects to produce different soundscapes is well represented here and this song reminds me in spirit of something like Legacy, although it doesn''t exactly sound like it.


Harris

I'm not going to try not to get into the politics of this song (suffice to say I think aligning 'Bomber' Harris with simple minded little Englanders is a bit much as I think he was only trying to do his best in the best interests of the country fighting a war for its own existence - its always easy to look back with today's standards). Ah well, I failed. The biggest thing wrong with this song is it's position on the album. At this stage of first listening I think the monster might have a slight limp, or its balls might be in the wrong place. As a song I think it is actually quite good, with a really nice vocal and acoustic melody. I think it might have benefited from a rocky chorus, ala You, Who Do You Hate.


Love Remains

Two and a half minutes of Mansun perfection. We can confirm the monster has balls. And they are big. This could be one of the best songs they have ever written. It's beautiful in its simplicity, but it rocks with a punky pop sensibility.


Cry 2 My Face

This track could have been on Little Kix but as I've said, that’s not a bad thing in isolation. And that is exactly what this song has. It's beautiful and complements the songs before and after.


No signal/No complaints

With the little intro and then a haunting guitar riff this is more classic recognisable Mansun. And it's this Mansun that the NME never got to grips with. It's Paul Draper going with his instincts and it sounds great.


Home

With only a basic guide vocal, this song is raw. But raw is good. It's emotional but not sickly sweet - no chocolate cheesecake here. I love this song. Its chuntering guitar riff is perfect with the melodic vocal line on top - something you come to expect from Mansun and they deliver here.


Fragile

Once known as "This is my home" looking back the live version of this song its a perfect interpretation of how the song is presented here. But I love the studio version. It's everything that is in the title. Anything else and it would have been another middle-of-the-road-rocker. Delicate and well produced, this is a refined version of Mansun and shows Draper's innate talent for songwriting.


Wanted So Much

Another one out of the "Love Remains" stable and another perfect slice of punky-pop. Initially the chorus reminded me of the chorus to "Six" which is no bad thing. Another great song.


Good Intentions Heal The Soul

This is not a song you could call instant. This has to be the brains of the monster. Dark, brooding and unpredictable until you reach the heights. The beauty of Draper's heartfelt refrain is as good as anything he has ever done and ever sung.


The Dog From Two Doors Down

This song is credited in the booklet to "The Nurk Twins". It's a simple instrumental that makes me think that Draper and Chad might someday end up writing for films.


Rock''n''Roll Loser

A leftover from Little Kix and I can see why. It's so different from those tracks – to me it's a humorous little ditty that would have been perfect on a b-side. It harks back to some of the earlier material Mansun put out, but with that more polished touch that I guess dominates Little Kix. A great start to CD3 (or track 13 on my compilation).


Secrets

I think I might be dissenting from the average Mansunite here, but Secrets never did anything for me, or rather the bootleg didn't. I think you really had to have heard it live to understand the version that is out there. The studio version however is fantastic. It's another song that is of the "Six" style, a progression rather than a classic verse chorus verse chorus affair. The delayed guitar at the end sends me into rapture. I love this song.


These Days

Another song that requires some additional listening, but is nothing less than solid. I think that more than any other track, this will be the one I will come back to after repeated plays of Love Remains, Getting Your Way and my other faves and love.


It's OK

This track alone justifies the whole project. I really think this should have been released as an EP as Closed For Business was. It could be the best song that Mansun have committed to tape. I think it is the microcosm of everything good Mansun represents. Awesome, spiralling melody in Draper's angelic voice. Spiky-but-soulful instrumentation and rhythm. Chad's guitar and Draper's guitar lines are perfect. I can't say how bowled over I was by this song. This is the monsters heart (I hadn't forgotten about the monster you know).


Drones

Recorded at the same time as It's OK this should have been on the EP too. Another (I know I keep saying it) classic. Swingbeat until the chorus, its adds another layer of texture to the album. You just can't take the melody out of Draper's writing. It's his genius.


Right To The End Of The Earth

A song I feel sure would have been a real crowd-pleaser live. A fitting end to the collection of new songs. It's like a huge plodding dinosaur, riffs chugging, bass pumping. But everyone loves dinosaurs don't they.


Well, that's that. I think this monster works. In fact, I think it's an excellent monster. Nay, a perfect monster, if that's not a tautology, oxymoron or other word that describes something that shouldn't be. I love it already. I wasn't sure I would, but I do.

Lastly, as this drags on and on, I'd like to thank Parlophone for listening to the fans and putting this out, and also to Paul Draper for spending the time putting Kleptomania together. It can't have been easy going back, but I think it was the right thing to do. The sleeve notes are so great. It's a pity more artists can't be as candid. They also help the 'story' of the album. They give it context and meaning.

And so Mansun is gone. We now have closure. We are left with the songs and the memories. It's not often you can say this about art, but their music has changed me.

Happiness so sublime. A soundtrack for life.

p.s. I should really give reference to Stephen Fry for the Pepsi line. But I can''t help stealing....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Let's start where they left off...

Being that South of the Painted Hall was the last song to be released by Mansun (it was a digital download as part of the Legacy – The Best Of release) I thought there was a nice symmetry in using it for my first proper contribution (and indeed title) to my Mansun Paul Draper website.

If I remember correctly the song was thought to be lost – and I’m not sure as to the completeness of it, whether is was a demo, the finished article or at some point in-between. I'm pretty sure there only exists an MP3 of it, hence its manner of release.

As to the track. It is very much a Kleptomania-era track, straight guitar, bass and drums with Paul singing some personal and to my mind introverted lyrics. I really like this track, as it shows the band to be so much more than the ordinary indie outfit they were sometimes portrayed as in the press. It's interesting musically - there is no real chorus - and lyrically - and of course it holds a special place as the last Mansun release. There is usually some point in every Mansun song that gets me and this song is no different. For me the last couple of lines of vocal tied in with the guitar melody (I’m assuming it is Chad laying down the chord inversions) really hits the spot. It is classic Mansun - and the reason why I'm really looking forward to Paul's new work.

One of the problems of it being a bonus digi-download coupled with the fact there would be no more Mansun after it means the lyrics were never published. I’ve looked online and never found any versions that I think are correct. So to kick the “content” off on this site here is my stab at the lyrics. Tell me where I've gone wrong.

Infinite moments of calm in our life - what a waste
Our defining moments fade away
It was easy to navigate the wind when everything was cold

Well I’m drunk when the truth's spurting out
And my truth is disguised as a joke
Like the one about the dying in books
When the looks are worth a thousand rumours

My voice can be disguised
But my face can't lie
There's no antidote to save you
When I’m drunk

My failure's lying down and falling down but not getting up
All our great achievements put to better use
Like the wise man mistaken but the fool he can not put me right

Well I’m drunk when the truth's spurting out
And my truth is disguised as a joke
Like the one about the dying in books
When the looks are worth a thousand rumours

Well my voice can be disguised

But my face can't lie
There's no antidote to save you
When I’m drunk

Yeah - my voice can be disguised

I'll break off all contact no signal so i hope i don't offend you

Oh - even in summer the days are like winter
So glad parks do not fear to abandon them
People they differ in life not in death,
So the higher you climb - the longer you fall

My voice can be disguised
But my face can't lie
There's no signal i can find

p.s. In a web-chat with Paul I asked him what the title of the song meant. Click here for the answer...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A New Beginning

Post #1 | Well we have to start somewhere I suppose...