Review Summary: Dr Manhattan is a florid Illinoisan post-punk quartet. This, their eleven-track debut, is a solid start for a young group.
One need only skim the album’s liner notes to recognize Dr Manhattan’s outlandish attitude. Nothing like their steely namesake, Dr Manhattan consists of keyboardist/percussionist (he basically beats on a giant floor tom) Andrew Morrison, guitarist and singer Matt Engers, drummer Nick Vombrack “our dad”, and bassist Adam Engers who provides backup vocals as well as “fur”.
After Foal’s underwhelming and overhyped debut release Antidote
I became quickly disinterested in the current post-punk scene. It seems that all of the experimental/dance-punk bands I’ve listened to lately fail to really deliver long-lasting hooks or show any diversity. Either that or they crash and burn in their idiotic pretension, with cringe inducing lyrics ala Black Kids or just poor instrumentation. Welcome Dr Manhattan. As unlikely a visitor as you’ll get, they’ve garnered attention by playing Vans Warped Tour supported by Brit scenesters Bring Me The Horizon, quite possibly the oddest match ever. Dr Manhattan's live show is ridiculous and one of the funniest performances I’ve ever witnessed. Whether because of their antics or apparel, you find yourself laughing and dancing all at once. Plunging beneath a group synopsis, Dr Manhattan
is one of the freshest albums I’ve had the pleasure of hearing this year.
The album begins with the distorted and upbeat “Big Chomper, Big Chomper”. Reminiscent of a Forgive Durden track, it is charged yet groovy, completed by higher pitched vocals. “You Put The I In Team” is a more aggressive track which includes piano lines and vocal harmonies. “Claims Should Echo” sounds like a combination of !!! and Kiss Kiss, a group Dr. Manhattan has befriended and previously toured with. The definitive track on the album is easily “Gunpowder: A Ballet”. Engers voice shines as he sings strong melodies throughout. Morrison’s keyboard lines really compliment the track and Vombrack’s drumming is creative and tight.
Then comes “Tracey’s Buns”, an acoustic interlude of sorts. Shamelessly plain and poorly performed, it’s careless simplicity makes it a loosely accepted track. It sounds more like a homespun ballad then some pretentiously overblown acoustic moment. milkshakes are pretty ***ing tasty / but I enjoy you more / because you’re Tracey / and I love you so much
sings Engers. After “Tracey’s Buns” Dr Manhattan
returns to its frenzied catchiness with four strong closers. “To Feel Cozy Surrounded By Cats” is another catchy dance-punk track featuring quick high-hat work and thick synthesizers. “Minds Like Ours” has a chorus that would fit in any pop-punk song if it wasn’t surrounded by tenuous organ chords.
In conclusion, Dr Manhattan is a group brimming with fresh wit, tight both instrumentally and lyrically. Engers voice is pleasant, and the group is even better live then they are on the album. A promising rookie act, look for them to develop in the future, a bright spot on a dismal scene.