It’s raining blood and intestinal fluids on your favorite stretch of Pacific coastline. Hailing from sunny Los Angeles, The Manx provide aural proof that subtlety is overrated, with their new release, Voyage in Bad Taste . Released on Sweat Band Records (The Manx’s own label), it’s a raucous celebration of the dregs in us all, high-octane cartoon chaos. Despite its insanity, its instrumental and vocal coordination is razor sharp, a degree of precision that drives it forward, careening over psychic edges over and over again. Unorthodox to say the least, as a punk album driven by banjo plucking, mandolin riffs and lilting accordion, it’s joyous in its tension and shifts. There’s so much glee in menace, in ugliness and all of its comedic bits, rolling in sticky and unpleasant imagery. Its campiness knows no bounds, a demented John Philip Sousa march led through a swamp, off the edge of a cliff, relishing apocalyptic fantasy.
While the album musically and lyrically centers around a clamor of dystopian worlds, it also manages to be intimately psychological. “Shimmering Ancient Wisdom” is introduced with intense velocity, featuring a baleful chorus adorned with accordion lines. Lyrically, its melodic vocal hooks conjure grotesque images of drowning, squirming proto-humans. Well aligned with this imagery, “Back in the Trash” is heavy and hilarious in its depiction of relationship-driven angst and anxiety, a triumphant ode to the non-triumphant. It veers between an unassuming waltz of self-deprecation that’s twistedly “Bohemian Rhapsody”-esque and manic sections driven forward by screaming vocals.
Tonal shifts make many of the tracks feel as if they could be several at once. Featuring King Buzzo of the Melvins, “Rainbow Hammer” frequently pulls back on its intensity to reveal a scant soundscape, populated by a single voice and instrument. “Nightmare,” like many of the tracks begins as a quiet (if not ominous) build, crafted with the gentle foreboding of any once upon a time.Eventually, the track shifts into a frantic journey through a technicolor Inferno, spat out lyrics about seeing “the ocean give way to bile” causing one to picture the very same washing up on a pristine California coast, palm trees aflame.
Featuring day-glo, fantasy-tinged nihilism, incredibly dense instrumental layering, banjo and mandolin riffs at hyper-speed, and sweeping melodies, this album is a brain-splitting buzzsaw, leaving one with two halves to sink your fingers into, oozing purple goo. For the nervous, anxious children in us all, in cosmic horror of the adults we somehow became. It’s so much fun, and a definite must.