Coming onto the scene in 1995, Mansun was definitely a band who knew how to have fun with what they did. Consisting of Paul Draper (vocals/rhythm guitar), Stove King (bass), Dominic Chad (lead guitar/backing vocals), and Andie Rathbone (drums), the group was known during their early years for their constantly changing fashion styles. While they split up in early 2003 while in the middle of recording their fourth album, they left quite an interesting repertoire of tunes for the world to enjoy.
Mansun’s debut album, Attack of the Grey Lantern was released in 1997, which had quite an interesting concept. Draper referred to as the implicit storyline of the album as “small town weirdo observations.” It was also supposedly influenced by comedies such as The Goon Show and Monty Python.
The first song on the album, “The Chad Who Loved Me” has a surprisingly classical instrumental opening. The violins create a calming tone as a gradual buildup is established, eventually giving way to the meat of the song. Guitar, drums and bass are added to create a rather inspirational, grand vibe, while the drawn out, slow vocals give the song a semi-psychadellic feel.
“You… Who Do You Hate” Opens with the death toll that fades into a somber guitar part accented with ambient violins. The vocals are soft and mellow, layered with lovely harmonies. However, this sense of ease is quickly shattered as the electric guitar and more intense vocals kick in. The song alternates between these two tones for its remainder, and eventually ends on the same death toll it began with.
“She Makes My Nose Bleed” is arguably one of the catchiest songs on the album. It’s got a great beat, and the guitar is intense and fun. The lyrics are rather quirky, with lines one wouldn’t exactly expect to find in a love song. One of the most prominent examples is “she makes me sneeze,” which would definitely have listeners raising an eyebrow and pondering what exactly was being implied. However, knowing that this album was influenced by comedies does give the odd nature of the songs a little more context.
The album ends on a hidden track called “An Open Letter To The Lyrical Trainspotter.” This track is rather interesting as it seems to be about the general nature of the album, stating that “the lyrics aren’t supposed to mean that much,” and that the words were in fact written by a fool. Is this simply commenting on the rather silly nature of the album as a whole, or is it making a larger statement about music in general as a form of distraction?
Attack of the Grey Lantern is definitely a unique album created by a unique band. The varying styles and quirky topics of the songs are guaranteed to give hours of entertainment, and certainly warrant a few listens.