Review Summary: For Tomorrow: A Guide to Contemporary British Music, 1988-2013 (Part 39)
Mansun were always a bit unstable. Their debut album, Attack of the Grey Lantern
, fused the disparate styles of Britpop, prog, and symphonic rock but was accessible enough to produce four top 20 singles and debut at number one. Their sophomore effort, 1998’s Six
, was something else entirely. Songs pick up in one place and completely change direction multiple times before folding back upon where they started. It’s a piano ballad! No wait, it’s thrash rock! No wait, it’s chugging hard rock! If nothing else, the sheer audacity of the thing deserves respect. I’ve never heard anything like it before.
plays like the band recorded 100 demos, cut out all the parts they didn’t like, smashed what was left together, mastered it and turned it in. It’s hard to write about this album without just relaying where all the songs go. Opener “Six” starts with a bit of piano, then lapses into chugging power chords, builds towards what should be a chorus and then, wham, head bang breakdown and lasers. Following that the song drops out into a half tempo space rock interlude before, wham, back to the head bang breakdown. Before the songs 8 minutes are up Mansun will lead you back through the movements in reverse. “Fall Out” begins as a hip hop interpretation of, I *** you not, “Dance of the Sugar Plum Faries” then transforms into strummy lad rock. Throughout, Paul Draper sings like a cross between Billy Corgan and Brett Anderson, and it’s only a little less annoying than that sounds. Except on “Witness to a Murder (Part Two)”, in which actor Tom Baker recites a monologue over harpsichord. Six
only plays it straight on “Legacy”, which just so happens to be the songs lone hit single and even that ends with the refrain of “Nobody cares when you’re gone.”
is worthy of respect, it’s too challenging to be a truly pleasurable listen. Whenever Mansun hit upon a melodic gem they quickly discard it in order to take another sharp left turn. As a result, nothing much sticks initially. Mansun made one more sharp left for 2000’s soul-prog Little Kix
before splitting in the midst of recording sessions for their 4th album. But on Six
they seem content, as if it was the insane album that they had to make before disappearing.