Manic Pixie Dream Girl
EMP Label Group / Amped
I saw a man die just the other day. Along with several other helpless bystanders, I watched in horror as the EMT struggled in vain to revive the man. At the risk of sounding cold, crass, and or callous, I’ll suggest that if rock and roll is also a seizure victim, lying on the sidewalk, gagging and gasping for life (which it is), then Doll Skin is the defibrillator sent by God to revive it.
By their own admission, stylistically, the band’s 2016 debut record In Your Face (Again) was “all over the place.” However, with their 2017 sophomore record, Manic Pixie Dream Girl, the scrappy Phoenix-based combo has created a more cohesive collection – an 11-song cavalcade that hits ya like a sticky-sweet punch in the face. “Time to make your mama proud,” indeed.
Ever-bratty frontchick Sydney Dolezal remains a captivating storyteller – exuding a certain sense of constant urgency. But even when she’s ranting (which is often), Dolezal always has my complete, undivided attention. Punishing her kit with nut-busting precision, Meghan Herring proves further why she’s one of the most exciting young drummers on today’s rock scene, while bassist Nicole Rich keeps it in the pocket perfectly, like a seasoned pro. However, what pushes the record over the cliff is Alex Snowden’s authentic rock-style guitar work. Kudos to producer and Cage9 founding guitarist / vocalist, Evan Rodaniche, for ensuring that the teenage ace’s glorious layers of blistering tracks all sound like… rock and roll guitars.
Yet, despite the epic individual performances and the immeasurable group rock star factor, what shines brightest here are the songs themselves. These girls have clearly done a lot of living since the release of their first record – compelling life experiences that are reflected transparently throughout. From the super-charged arena-caliber energy of “Shut Up (You Miss Me)” and the scorching intensity of “Road Killa” to the heartfelt sentiment exposed in the lyrics of “Sweet Pea,” Manic Pixie Dream Girl is simply a world-class rock record. Additional highlights include the Cameo-flavored “Baby’s Breath,” the straight-savage Morello-inspired “Persephone,” the get-in-the-pit anthem “Punch a Nazi,” and the chilling, record-closing remake of the 1998 Alanis Morissette classic, “Uninvited.”
There are three sure-fire indicators that a rock star is lying: 1) They profess love for their fellow bandmates. 2) They claim to have ever done anything for “the fans.” 3) They swear their new record is gonna be “harder and heavier than ever.” Doll Skin has gone on record, promising the latter. And God bless ’em – with Manic Pixie Dream Girl, they actually delivered – in spades!