ARTIST: Die Mannequin -Have you ever started following a band, not because you were their biggest fan right away, but, because the group seemed to bear enormous potential that you hoped they would eventually realize? You found yourself following them, hoping they'd get the change to get it right eventually? There's no denying that such a pleasure is very private, (sort of) misplaced and self-absorbed (claiming victory when the band makes it from a comfy, third-person seat?), but it's no less gratifying when everything falls into place and the band in question hits its stride and perfects its sound.
REVIEW BY: Bill Adams
ALBUM: FINO + BLEED
LABEL: How To Kill/WEA/Universal International
Such is the feeling those in the know will get when they first hear FINO + BLEED by Die Mannequin.
Last year's full-length from the band, Unicorn Steak, held a hell of a lot of promise as songs like “Do It Or Die” and “Saved By Strangers” broke the band to radio and presented a rough and ready, but not (yet) remarkable singles-oriented band trying to produce an album. It was pretty easy to tell that too because the singles on the record were stellar but the album cuts were just filler. Not so on FINO + BLEED; this time the band comes loaded for bear with great songs and a tighter, stronger sound guaranteed to blow listeners (all of them – previously initiated or not) away.
The secret, this time, lies in the mixture of elements on FINO + BLEED. Now joined by a producer blessed with a better idea of what to do with the band (previous producers included MSTRKRFT and Ian D'Sa of Billy Talent that did the best they could with the knowledge they had,), Matt Hyde's mixes here push a far more confident Care Failure up to the front of the show and, not shy, she rises to the occasion; panting, howling, crooning, sighing and cavorting her way into every heart within earshot and not leaving a dry seat in the house through pristine takes of “Start It Up,” “Suffer,” “Bad Medicine” and “Caroline Mescaline.” Of course, such a gloriously over-the-top performance would fall flat and come across as silly and overdone were the music behind such histrionics not at least on par but, happily, the music compliments Failure's lines. The worry is never that Failure's own guitar, Anthony Bleed's bass or (ex-RHCP) Jack Irons' drums will overshadow Failure's vocal parts, nor is it likely that the singer would overshadow her band's onslaught – rather (and this is very much unlike most other new bands in rock right now), both singer and band work in tandem and feed off of each other to coax and cajole still better performances from each other. On “Locking Elizabeth,” for example, Failure and the band continually try to one-up each other – throwing ever-harder, thicker and more inspired performances back and forth until all parties involved are literally frothing by the climax. Elsewhere (most notably on “Bad Medicine” and “Caroline Mescaline”), the band invokes the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the height of their powers (read: three albums ago) by turning in performances that are equal parts lusty gasp and swaggering stomp, thus guaranteeing to make anyone within earshot a little weak in the knees. Such a progression is a genuine revelation; while it always seemed possible that Die Mannequin might be capable of this kind of rapturous hypnosis, on FINO + BLEED it is omni-present and wildly infectious.
As “Open Season” (the only carry-over from Unicorn Steak on FINO + BLEED) begins to recede into the last orgasmic gasp of “Whipper Snapper,” both band and audience – sorely shagged out by each other now – collapse into a post-coital heap. There are no secret or hidden tracks in the end and there don't need to be – there's only a short, dark build in the final seconds of FINO + BLEED's run-time which can build perfectly back into “Intruder” and “Miss Americvnt” should listeners feel nimble and verile enough to set the album on repeat. That may indeed happen, or listeners may want to wait until later for another ravishing but, either way, Die Mannequin has made its point hard enough to leave a mark with FINO + BLEED. The band has arrived.
Ground Control Magazine