Mannequin Pussy keep balance of emotional storms, political rage on infectious ‘Perfect’ EP

The bulk of what we do around here is compiled from promo material we get from record labels and publicists, and every now and again we take some band submissions of stuff that really sticks with us. But that’s not a hard and fast rule. We’ve taken on records and music we went after on our own, and we’ve even just written about stuff because, fuck it, we want to.

Just flat out, I’m a big fan of Mannequin Pussy, the Philly punk band that has mixed heartfelt emotion and political powerhouse anthems ever since their formation, so we’re talking their new EP “Perfect.” We’ve gone on ad nauseum about this, but the past 15 months have been awfully hard on people, and this band is no exception, having gone through their own upheavals and endured the societal turmoil that has transformed sections of our country. In fact, one of the standout tracks here addresses the matters of police brutality and race that have become major topics of discussion and rage, rightfully, as well as things that have divided people into groups of those wanting to see social justice and racist assholes who fear losing power. The band for this recording—vocalist/guitarist Marisa “Missy” Dabice, bassist/vocalist Colins “Bear” Regisford, guitarist Thanasi Paul, drummer/percussionist Kaleen Reading—hammer home this EP that hopefully bridges last LP “Patience” with what comes next, and they give their all here, balancing vulnerability with rage, always feeling as human as ever.

“Control” starts with grungy guitar work and the power kicking in as Dabice calls, “You have this way, you repeat all of the words that everyone one else says, and I know no one’s waiting for anyone,” as the energy blasts. The guitar work is melodic and catchy as hell while the track keeps landing body shots before bleeding out. “Perfect” is a blast of punk fury with wild shouts and a punishing stomp as its tempo. The guitars chug, the energy ignites, and the verses punch holes into your psyche. “To Lose You” brings glimmering guitar work and softer vocals as Dabice, after declaring she’s not scared, admits, “Oh, I’m terrified of what happens next, of what’s coming next,” as she puts her vulnerability and pain on display. The chorus is emotional as hell, a place anyone who ever has had their heart shredded can understand, piling melody on top of discomfort, leaving in a cloud of synth sheen.

“Pigs Is Pigs” is the aforementioned barnstormer, one led vocally by Regisford, who wrote the song, as the band taps back into the police brutality and social movements that have taken place ever since George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were murdered, In fact, amid punk blazing, Regisford wails, “Yeah, this is fucked, Breonna needed sleep, no knock no knock, why is that the brightest stars always get ‘got’?” No punches are withheld, the band pours all of themselves into the track, and it all ends in a pocket of crunch. “Darling” closes the album, delivering dreamy haze and vocals that rumble under the surface, bringing a sense of calm even as emotions are high. “Darling, when the sun shines, it shines for you, darling, I will always defend you,” as she admits places where she perhaps didn’t hold up her end. The chorus is strong and punchy, murk settles over everything, and the track comes to a bright finish, at least musically.

Mannequin Pussy always has been a wave of emotion, personal trauma, and political righteousness, and even at a pivotal time for the band, they’ve managed to maintain that on “Perfect.” This is obviously a smaller stop on their way to their next LP, and from the sounds of what we have on these five tracks, that wait definitely is going to be worth it. We’ve always been a big fan of this band, and their future sounds like it’s going to be blissfully volatile and melodically blunt.

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