I’m considerably behind schedule in my informational posting of 2004 Album of the Year. Since I know you’ve all been white-knuckled clinging to the edge of your seats in anticipation, I will stymie you no further.

It just took a while to sink in, is all. I thought I had nabbed an early contender with the debut from Scissor Sisters, which I do think is wonderful. Truth be told, though, the schtick gets old. Sometimes I simply am not in the mood to don a feather boa and flaunt my feminine, cross-gender sexuality. I’m not in the mood not very often, but there are those times.

My last week spent in Edinburgh, right before the turn of the year, I snatched up the posthumous three-CD release from my Brit-pop heroes, Mansun. They’ve been around for some time, but never really got big in the States, and who knows if their sound would appeal to this market, anyhow. Since their debut album in 1997, I’ve always been interested in their dynamism, inventiveness, and creativity, all which add electric life into a bratty and tired genre of music. The only problem for me was that two of their four releases were never brought out in the U.S., and their singles and EPs were highly collectible, tremendously numerous, and difficult to find. The second I landed in Scotland, I hopped on down to Avalanche to pick up Little Kix, their third and final studio release, which I had been waiting for back home for two years.

“How can I expect you to believe
when I don’t even believe in me?
And if I ever lived again,
I wish I could be you;
if I ever loved again,
I wish it could be you, yeah,
you, I wanna be you,
I wanna be you.”

What separates Mansun from the other bands in their genre is a sensitivity and drama that provides an accessible and crystal-clear view into your own nature. They don’t posture (and if they do, it’s pure irony), but rather highlight the insecurities and transient quality of life, legacy, and fleeting youth. Mistakes are remembered and not necessarily learned from – sometimes we all buckle to deeply-entrenched patterns of behavior. There are no tantrums thrown within their songs (as Blur is so fond of doing), no wailing and complaining from alcoholic stupors (Oasis, anyone?). Mansun is not as artsy as Suede, and not as sold out and dull as Travis. Quite simply, they give in to their humanity. They remind me how sometimes we choose to give in to ourselves, as flawed and shaky as that sense of self might be, and whatever the repercussions. And in the end, it doesn’t really matter anyway. Witty, emotive, and self-deprecating. Ex-Melody Maker journalist Mark Beaumont was right to tip them at the head of their fold, as was Pulp, The Smiths, and Joy Division before them – all stand-outs amidst a pack of mewling kittens: “They offered a sinister, Tim Burton-esque warping of the fabric of rock that seemed irresistible when all around [bands] were suggesting we ‘roll with it’, ‘do the white line’, and ‘feel aaaaalright’.”

“I’ve been drained, emotion is a bitter thing;
won’t be here so I don’t care.
I concede relationships have left me weak;
won’t be here so I don’t care.
Look for something worthy to replace my guilt,
prove my worth to people who I call my friends –
won’t be here so I don’t care.
Nobody cares when you’re gone…”

I didn’t know it at the time I bought Little Kix, but the band was finished already. Smart musicians end their relationships when they reach a wall creatively, and Mansun was no different. This prevents them from putting out formulaic drek that fails to inspire or be inspired. Their supporters knew they were in the studio when the breakup occurred, however, and would not let them off lightly. After a petition was signed by thousands of their fans, Mansun did something unprecedented as a show of gratitude: they released three CDs of songs even after they were no longer extant as a band. Enter, Kleptomania. The second disc is a collection of excellent b-sides from a selection of rare singles, and the third disc is alternate and live versions of songs that span Mansun’s career. But the first disc is the one I’m talking about. Eleven unfinished songs that would have been their fourth album. Even in its rough state, Kleptomania gets my tip as 2004 Album of the Year.


“So nothing remains, only the scar and it hurts like hell;
feel this beautiful morning, filling my soul to the point that all’s forgotten, love remains.
Nothing is set in stone, only love remains;
All my life’s been the same, so strange…”

I’ve been listening to this album for four months almost nonstop, and I’m finding new things within every time. It’s full of fear and love, and fear of love, and full of feeling yourself sliding downward into the places in which you’ve always established yourself. When you look up from the bottom, there’s hope, and Kleptomania is really about that hope, and the struggle to pull yourself up, even though you know you’ll be down there again someday. I find that incredibly comforting. I find that incredibly wonderful, and incredibly human.

“My good intent, is something that turns visions into actions again;
like my cravings, my good intentions, my list of lists tells me that merit leads to salvation;
that’s not how things are done really, I don’t think so.
I don’t know if I’m dreaming I’m a bear, or that he’s dreaming he’s me.
I will take you to a place you will remember all your life (if that’s okay);
faced with the choice of just false beliefs,
a way to come to terms with my irrelevance,
all that really matters is I’m happy, never mind how I got here.
My good intentions heal my soul;
The future is something precious, precious, precious…”

14 Responses to “Awards.”

  1. inbody Says:
    February 8th, 2005 at 5:18 pm

    I'll have to check them out. Don't think I've ever heard them.

  2. no_mans_land Says:
    February 8th, 2005 at 5:32 pm

    <small>oh man, when i was a little Marilyn Manson-obsessed teenybopper, i used to run into the Mansun cds in the record store while searching for my beloved band. i would get all excited and then i would notice the "u" and be like, damnit! who are these Mansun idiots? turns out they're pretty good. hehe.
    i've been meaning to compose a best of 2004 list myself. it's abrewing…</small>

  3. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 8th, 2005 at 5:36 pm

    I'll greatly look forward to your list.
    As an aside, keep watching this space for some Marilyn Manson-related antics in the near future. I have a feeling that you'll enjoy it…

  4. kittynitro Says:
    February 9th, 2005 at 10:47 am

    Life, legacy, and fleeting youth
    Will you write my constitution, baby?
    … or make me a little mixie? (No sad music , though! Only happy thoughts!)

  5. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 9th, 2005 at 11:02 am

    Re: Life, legacy, and fleeting youth
    I'd be honored both to write it and impose it upon you with forceful abandon.
    But a mix will have to do. Funny enough, I just put together a 'best of Mansun' disc for my friend Jeffy; I'd be happy to run you off a copy if you're interested. Not sure if it's your style, but we can give it a go…

  6. kittynitro Says:
    February 9th, 2005 at 11:24 am

    Re: Life, legacy, and fleeting youth
    Thank you! I was sold after references to Pulp, the Smiths and Joy Division. And if I hate it, there will be loads for us to argue about!

  7. thistlelurid Says:
    February 9th, 2005 at 10:47 pm

    I still say there is something slightly Manic Street Preachers about their sound…
    but I dont think anyone can touch their lyrics…

  8. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 9th, 2005 at 11:23 pm

    You know, Beaumont mentioned the Preachers in the same breath as JD, The Smiths, and Pulp. I really should give them a listen.

  9. marcikay Says:
    February 20th, 2005 at 6:50 pm

    Paul has told me about you, since we are both in the bay area.
    if you don't mind, i'm adding you.
    also, Mansun are in my top 10 favourite bands.

  10. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 20th, 2005 at 8:18 pm

    Well, what the hell are you doing over HERE, then? 🙂
    Glad to have you aboard, and I've added you back. Any alcohol-swilling friend of Paul's is a friend of mine.

  11. marcikay Says:
    February 20th, 2005 at 9:44 pm

    on the mansun topic….do you know anywhere in the bay that has the kleptomania album?
    i hate ordering thing online.

  12. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 20th, 2005 at 9:48 pm

    You probably won't find it around, unless Amoeba in SF got an import copy in. Of course, I'd be more than happy to burn you a copy if you like…

  13. marcikay Says:
    February 20th, 2005 at 9:55 pm

    yay again!
    that would be great. i'm going to take a walk down telegraph pretty soon, and if i cant find it, i'd love a copy.
    it has been hard for me even find the songs to download.

  14. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 20th, 2005 at 9:59 pm

    Just let me know.

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