It’s been a long time since I latched onto an album with the frenzy I feel for Mannequin Pussy’s, Romantic. I crave the intimacy I feel while listening to this album in the same way I’ve craved spending time with a new partner, or a new friend.
The album jumps directly into its vein of powerhouse emotion with “Kiss,” which spans only a little over a minute long. Marisa Dabice screams with bubbling defiance, anger, and desperation, “I kiss myself when I’m feeling lonely/talk to myself when no one hears me///and I am not ashamed to be lonely/but I’m afraid to feel it so deeply.” We quickly come to “Romantic”, easily the most immediately likeable song of the album (and the longest by a minute at 2 minutes 40 seconds). The first time I heard this song I woke up to it and walked home with it every day for two weeks. It’s a song about the black-hole aspect of romance often overshadows the rest, and contains both a fiercely beating heart and a starry guitar line.
Another one of my favorites is “Pledge”, a two-line song in which Dabise croaks “I pledge allegiance to myself and nothing else/oh nothing,” with fervor that makes it almost impossible not to scream along.
“Denial” is perhaps the most catchy, and musically possesses the lightheartedness of a pop-punk song. The drummer Kaleen Reading drives the song forward with a lot of snare clicks and bouncy fills. Thanasi Paul plays vibrant colorful chords on guitar while Dabise contrasts this atmosphere by singing about how her body shakes at night lost in the thought of what she is and what she thought she’d be. The song is both powerful and exciting.
Most of the lyrics are difficult to understand without help from the internet, but they read like passionate poetry written with addictive honesty. It feels like she’s collected every suppressed emotion she’s ever felt, worked rationally through them until they carry the potential to be expelled, then screamed her dense mass of emotion into the microphone in a modus reminiscent of a diary.
Another few favorites of mine are Hey Stephen, Meatslave One (about watching friends fall into the vortex of their iPhone life), and Everything. The next time you’re overwhelmed by existence and/or lost or confused human connections, give Romantic a listen. You might find some of the same comforts in it that I have.