Album Review: Die Mannequin’s Danceland EP
“I hope I find the right place for myself”
by Jessica Buck
What happens when you get dropped from your label and management despite a stellar album and a couple Juno nods? You pick yourself up, you work at HMV to pay the bills and you keep going. At least that’s what Die Mannequin has done, producing the Danceland EP to keep themselves relevant and sane after being dumped by Warner Music. Now on eOne Music Canada, Danceland’s B-Sides, re-releases and live tracks are made to whet the fans’ appetite while their (actual) new album comes to fruition.
Let’s start with the new tracks; we have ‘Away’, ‘Die Snitch Die’ and ‘Children with Machetes’. Each flows from the same vein as 2009’s Fino + Bleed; self-destructive lyrics, vocals like sharpened claws, and layers, plenty of layers. Not to mention, lead lady Care Failure’s uncanny ability to add a sexy, rough edge to a track by simply breathing on it. Thanks to Bruce McDonald’s Hardcore Logo 2, in which Care stars, a lot of Fino + Bleed b-sides have come to the surface. ‘The Other Tiffany’ and a re-release of the misery-soaked ‘Candide’ are both found on the soundtrack. So is the gang-vocaled ‘Orson Welles & 2012’, which is undoubtedly the best track on the EP, perhaps thanks to then-producer Matt Hyde (Porno for Pyros/Monster Magnet).
Laid out next to the heavily produced pieces, the live-off-the-floor tracks from Danceland Studio in Saskatchewan are a shock to the senses. Raw and imperfect, ‘Suffer’ and ‘The (Other) Other Tiffany’ may seem like crude demos at first, but a few more listens (and sense of expectation) allow their charm to emanate; and shows off why Die Mannequin is a band to be seen live. The last track, ‘Just Go Away’ is a complete turnaround in every way possible. It’s just Anthony Bleed with an acoustic guitar. No Care, no pummeling bass, electric guitar or drums, but plenty of angst. It invokes images of the rough touring life most of us only see in movies; the drugs, alcohol and heartbreak. Not unlike something you’d hear from Kurt Vile, it’s what you might get by pressing record as a guitarist messes about in the studio, waiting for his turn to contribute.
Speaking of rough lifestyle, Danceland has plenty of it. Care recently went public about her teenage homelessness, drug abuse and depression in an attempt to show other young sufferers that they’re not alone. And her experiences show through in her lyrics. The abandonment of youth anthem, ‘Away’ pleads “Don’t go and die on me/ She says she’s dead inside and out.” While ‘Die Snitch Die’ repeats with a sense of knowing, “I fell through the cracks of the justice system . I can’t run all my life…I can’t tell ‘cuz they’ll kill me”. Not something you’d hope to hear from a bright, talented 25 year old, but the fact is that, although clean, Care is still working out her demons. And what better way than this?
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