Whereas the first Mannequin Men albums reminded, particularly within Kevin Richard's sneering vocals, of the Old Haunts (and, specifically, their vocalist, Craig Extine), this third record from the Chicago group is a more comfortable record; it's got a rough, mildly bluesy sort of pace, no real attitude to show.

There's a strange sense of hopelessness underlying this lot. The band doesn't sound tired in the sense of sounding creatively spent—far from it, and in fact, this might be one of the year's best records, though it's unclear what direction they can take on their next record. They sound, rather, like they've lived, and lived hard, and then aged just enough to develop the disappointment that comes with real life. And it actually makes for a fantastic, unexpected and somehow melancholy record, a could-be working class soundtrack that nods not to the reward and pride of performing a man's work (see, for instance, Constantines), but to the hard reality of being stuck in your place. And this, all off little more than their chord choices.

It should be noted, though, that “Miss the city/I feel shitty/pretty sure that it don't miss me” from “Dark Sunglasses” more or less sums up the tone of the record's crux. And yet, “Cheryl Tiegs” manages to make a teenage jerk-off fantasy sound just as tired. The album wakes up at “Ok” and then falls back into a Trainwreck Riders-style sleepiness around the point of “Medill.” But it's solid, not to mention consistent as hell, though it might, just might, serve as the white flag that precedes an impending period for Mannequin Men: their thirties. [Addenda]

-China Bialos


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