Review by Shannon Shumaker
The Manson Family, the debut album from Heart Attack Man is impossible not to feel connected to. Blunt lyricism coupled with sometimes monotone but incredibly emotive vocals layered over raw and almost grungy guitars makes for a warm, inviting sound and easy to relate to perspective. Filled with stories about the struggles of everyday life (like comparing yourself to your peers, distancing yourself from toxic habits and people and the stresses of living in the city) The Manson Family is an incredibly human release.
“Burn Down The Mall” is a rather melodramatic opener as vocalist/guitarist Eric Egan discusses feeling jaded while scrutinizing his own peers, but the result is a very open and honest start to eleven blunt tracks that follow suit. Sonically, “Burn Down The Mall” is very easy to listen to, even a little catchy despite its almost somber tone, before leading into the slightly higher energy “Sitting On The Fringe.” What will really catch your attention on this second song though are the higher vocals that contrast well with the lower ones of the opening track.
Keeping things chugging forward is the simplistic, “Life Sucks,” which reflects on the last few years of the duo’s life. Coincidentally, this song feels like trudging forward through all of the bullshit, no matter how rough it may be, fitting the lyrical theme perfectly. The straightforward “Life Sucks” is then followed by a more empty and somber “Funhouse Mirrors.” It’s at this point in The Manson Family that the emotion behind these songs really becomes apparent. Although the album might seem like a cynical commentary on life, it is driven by real emotion and real experiences, and “Funhouse Mirrors” reminds listeners of this.
Title track, “The Manson Family” couldn’t be a more perfect blend of the album’s strong aspects. This track takes the lower, blunt vocals and pairs them with brighter instrumentals, creating a surprisingly catchy (but not obnoxiously so) sound. Another strong song follows soon after, as “Carbon Copies” dives into distancing yourself from people and things that aren’t good for you. A few songs later, “Surrounded By Morons” chronicles the stresses of living in the city and how incredibly stupid it can be if you decide to move for the wrong reasons. Again, this track addresses depression and anxiety without poetic imagery or metaphors, but rather with simplistic storytelling and honest lyricism.
Lyrically, The Manson Family is a standout release, but that’s not to say that Heart Attack Man doesn't deliver instrumentally as well. Track after track, each song’s sound echoes the theme effortlessly. Although there isn’t anything groundbreaking about any of these songs, there doesn’t need to be. Heart Attack Man doesn’t need to resort to overly catchy or complex songwriting on The Manson Family because it’s the heart and storytelling that goes into each song that makes them all stand out. The Manson Family is a must-listen simply because there is at least one song on this album that every cynical twenty or thirty-something can relate to.
Listen to "Carbon Copies" or "Burn Down The Mall"
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