Mannequin Pussy - Patience — Sungenre Review
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Mannequin Pussy – Patience

Sungenre Album of the Month – July 2019

Patience has never been the strongest suit for Mannequin Pussy. With two LPs running at under 20 minutes each, the Philadelphia-based punks don’t fluff about. After polishing their marriage of assertive punk and melancholic pop-rock on sophomore record Romantic (2016), the quartet have crafted an essential listen with their third album Patience, via the virtue itself.

Forever wanting to form a band, Marisa Dabice didn’t pick up a guitar until 24, having battled cancer through her teens. Forming Mannequin Pussy in 2010 with schoolmate Athanasios Paul, their debut Gypsy Pervert (2013) was a hard and fast nugget of punk aggression. Displaying the band’s rebellion against absurdist social norms, it also offered an insight into the frontwoman’s isolation and inability to empathise through her younger years. Kaleen Reading and bassist Colins “Bear” Regisford further imbibed their 2016 record Romantic with some much-needed low-end on what was a more professional harnessing of the band’s potent power. Three years on, with emo-punk producer Will Yip manning the console, Patience is an album many have been desperate for.

The opening title track kicks down the front door with fast-paced kicks and fidgeting lead licks. Crunchy rhythm guitars build into an ever-ascending pre-chorus of punk bliss underscored by Dabice’s blunt queries, “You’re getting insecure, more and more, and lord, what for?”. Amid a punchy chorus, she asserts her liberated spirit with newfound poise, “Who told you that my body was yours to own, long before you called it was crawling through the wild”.

Lead single “Drunk II” doubles down on the infectious, emotive energy. Chorus-driven strums of Major 7th progressions wash over Dabice’s incants of a drunken depression that sting with the relatability of confronting a painful truth; “I forgot that we were broken up, I still love you, you stupid fuck”. It’s strong melodic hooks and chorus chord progression proffer a touching tenderness that appropriates the music to the complexities of herself; “Everyone says to me, missy you’re so strong, but what if I don’t wanna be?”.

“Cream” surprises with a reprise to the band’s grunge roots. As vocals duet with drums, there’s a desperate dread as the main progression moves to its third chord. A second verse in Spanish adds another layer of density to the driving track before “Fear/+/Desire” opens in a similar key but different demeanour. Acoustic guitars and sweeping electric ones sit at the forefront of the shoegazey intro before an angelic chorus soars into pop territory, the only remnants of rock being the screeching lead guitar. It’s against this beautiful backdrop that lyrics recanting possessiveness feel truly dreadful; “I was climbing into bed and pretended to sleep, your hands wrap around me and I silently weep”.

“Drunk I” follow its predecessor mid-album and though the numbering and reversing of tracks isn’t anything new (see “Meat Slave” 1-3), the sub-minute sprint that marries downtempo dreaminess to full-on thrash is. Where previously exhibiting distinct stylistic differences from track-to-track, Mannequin Pussy’s blending within songs themselves makes for compelling listening on the new record.

An abyss of arpeggiating guitar and lead licks offer an ethereal canvas for the punk ballad “High Horse”. The bass drives hardest here as interjections of toms foreshadow future chaos. Following an opening eulogy on resentment, the soundscape combusts with grandiose cymbals supporting Dabice’s devastating burn of 2019; “And what’s the saddest situation you’ve ever seen? If you don’t say you, then I don’t agree”.

Twangy strums lighten the load in a move towards infectious indie-rock on “Who You Are”. Soothing vocals caress the listener amid a catchy three-chord chorus progression made satisfying with staccato transitions. The levity compliments Dabice’s promotion of self-efficacy; “Who taught you to hate the way you are? If I were you there’s not a thing I would restart”.

Like a tornado, the 38-second “Clams” sweeps through the album. Tearing the lining off eardrums with a duet of screams between Dabice and Paul, fast-paced guitars and frenetic drums are all let loose. The foot remains firmly affixed to the pedal with the grungey “F.U.C.A.W.”. Once again marrying conflicting styles, Dabice’s baiting of an opposer dances with more soft-spoke incantations that linger like a voice in the back of your head.

Reverbed drums and piano flutters infer a bright finish on closer “In Love Again”. Like a light at the end of the tunnel, the inspired aesthetic of renewed love closes things on a positive note with Dabice finding pure harmony – “And it keeps getting better, I’m so high, I want this forever”. The closing minute and a half sees the band indulge in an instrumental jam revolving around an addictive synth shimmer before feedback closes the page on the book it first opened.

After stepping into a stronger sonic space on Romanticism, Mannequin Pussy push even further on Patience. Dabice’s vocals come through sharper than ever before across an array of riveting rock landscapes. Improvements in production quality offer further exploration of the tender, melodic rock numbers whilst giving meaning to their pure punk/thrash incantations which were previously indecipherable. For opening their sound up to the masses without any letdown in the intensity of themes, Mannequin Pussy’s third album deserves to be displayed in every shop front window.