Mannequin Death Squad are a duo who hail from Melbourne, one of the most populous cities in Australia! The band combines the talents of El who provides vocals and rocks the guitar, and Dan who in addition to guitars and vocals commands the drums. They describe their niche as a ‘two piece punk band singing pop songs’, and are relative newcomers to the music scene, so they can be forgiven for still finding their exact unique sound! They are signed to the independent record label Integrity Records (a specialist label who strive to discover new bands in the rock and punk genres), and recently released Eat Hate Regurgitate as their first EP on the label, which is what I am about to review for you lovely blog readers!
Over the years I have seen numerous ways which websites structure reviews; I want to break away from the norm and use a fresh new way of reviewing! Just like for my live music critiques, I will use a number of categories to judge releases by – with the categories remaining the same for all other releases for comparison ease – and then give the release an overall score at the end! Categories are as follows:
· Quality of Lyricism/Clarity of Lyrics.
· Distinctiveness of Sound (if tracks virtually identical all the way through a release, or if they are distinct and distinguishable from one another).
· Quality of Instrument Playing.
· Overall Rating.
There are five tracks featured on Eat Hate Regurgitate:
4. Van Gogh
Quality of Lyricism/Clarity of Lyrics.
Before I listened to the EP I had heard a selection of tracks live, and immediately after just one listen the choruses stood out, so I was hyped to delve into the other collection featured on the release! Thankfully the quality of the lyrics on the recorded tracks matches those I initially heard live. In particular, the storytelling method of presenting lyrics works exceptionally well on the fourth track Van Gogh. Standout sets of lyrics include the ‘keep your mouth shut’ hook on the chorus of K.Y.M.S, and Dan’s strong screams on Sky accompanied by El’s chant of ‘cut your tongue out’. In terms of clarity, on the majority of the five tracks singing by either member is distinguishable from the instruments, although there are a few occasions where guitar and drum playing blanket lyrics and blend them into the instrumental parts of tracks.
Distinctiveness of Sound
Every track on the EP may convey similar ambience and aura to one another, but they are far from identical! Naturally, when a band usually constructs their sound around one specific genre songs will contain similar melodies and themes as it fits the mould of the genre, but Mannequin Death Squad do venture outside the box and experiment with different guitar chords and vocal ranges, plus mix pieces of the rock and pop genres in their material. For instance, Down carries a bluesy tone and has a gloomy dark mood which fits the song well; at the start of K.Y.M.S the sound is similar, before El and Dan wind the guitar and drums down, intertwining a slower and mellower part into the song and leading it successfully into a new direction. The duo isn’t afraid to release material which both sticks at a faster pace all the way through its direction, and switches between quicker and slower tempos.
Quality of Instrument Playing
Sometimes with smaller groups who are unsigned or recently linked with a record label, the production on releases can be weak compared to more established artists – on Eat Hate Regurgitate however the quality of sound is strong, and the instruments can be heard in all their glory without sounding muffled! As mentioned already in this review, both drums and guitar are cleverly used to control mood and tempo throughout the EP, and match the emotion their lyrics are aiming to evoke. In K.Y.M.S as well as slowing the track down the drums and guitars create the heavier turbulent sections of the track and they fit perfectly into the song, rather than being bilious. Meanwhile, in Sick the instruments build up the walls of the track, adding to the foundations of the lyrics brooding the empowering vibe from the song, creating a honest and gritty ode aimed at a person who had hurt El and has caused her to resent them!
Each and every track from Eat Hate Regurgiate is memorable, and there is certainly no filler on the debut EP from Mannequin Death Squad! El and Dan should be really pleased with their finished set of tracks – none of the songs feel out the place, but the sound of each is distinctive enough to keep listeners engaged until the end of the EP. Despite a few issues with clarity of lyrics at times due to quieter vocals on a couple of tracks, they are barely noticeable in the grand scheme of things – lyrics are sure to remain in your head after only a couple of listens, especially in K.Y.M.S, Van Gogh, and Sky!
Out of 10, Eat Hate Regurgitate score a fantastic 8/10!
You can find Eat Hate Regurgitate on Spotify now!https://open.spotify.com/artist/5AzjW5JyaBBRJR1FUjD9iA – if the link doesn’t work then search for the band/EP name on Spotify☺️
Coming very soon will be an interview with the fabulous duo, off the back of their successful tour around the UK before they head back home to Australia!