I’ve been a fan off Jesse Kate’s music for some time now. His work with The Sexy Accident reminds me of indie rock’s glory days of the mid-90s. (I know we’ve already discussed this, Jesse, but I really mean that in the best way possible.) The drums and vocals sound real, and the band’s performances show just how little overdubbing it does with guitars. We need more bands that ditch laptops and just rock.
Anyway, my thoughts on their new album.
- Overall, it’s much, much better than the last one, Kinda Like Fireworks. I have to think the improvement is due to the addition of a second guitarist. Jesse doesn’t have to try to play everything at once.
- It was apparent on the last album, but it’s pretty obvious now just how intentional the band is in nailing down a specific sound. This really isn’t a diverse album; there are no surprise forays into electronica. It pretty much just sounds like a David Gedge record.
- Some of the songs are semi-autobiographical, yet armed with enough made-up stuff to throw off the listener.
- I really, really dig that Johnny Marresque guitar at 1:40 in “I’m Just Trying to Help (Me Like You).”
- The band plays in some uncommon time signatures, yet it still sounds more like Guided By Voices or The Wedding Present than King Crimson. This is a testament to their efforts to stay accessible.
- I like the percussion and stereo-panning tricks in “Buy Me Out.” It just goes to show how cool chicanery can be if judiciously used (as opposed to the technological onslaught of bands like Bloc Party).
- I’m still undecided with how I feel about “Failing to Play Nice.” It seems honest, but maybe too sprawling. It kinda seems like a hiccup in the middle of the album, but then other times, I enjoy the change of pace.
- The most rewarding thing about the Mantoloking, for me, is Jesse’s lyrics. (He’s explained them all in ridiculous detail on the band’s blog.) I can tell he must be thoughtful, yet super-sarcastic, like me. He pokes fun at the typical, gushing love song, spending all his time in “I’m Just Trying to Help (Me Like You)” focused on what the girl needs to do and look like to gain his love. Lines like, “If you want me to come back to you/ Here’s a list of some things that you could chose to do/ Like learn to pick up for your man/ And have you considered a spray-on tan?” He gets a little more serious and dark on “I Tried Again” with some quasi-Morrissey-like hopeless romantic lines, “I get bored if I’m not adored/ So I’m looking for a mess/ You’re the one I like the best.”
- The album is not too long.