Wax Mannequin - Orchard & Ire
My first view of Wax Mannequin was a glance at a close-up of a man's face draped in roses, his eyes broodingly staring at the distance. That should have been the first caveat of what I was about to endure on Wax Mannequin's fourth LP, Orchard & Ire: bizarre, excessively artsy music whose intentions to shock and rivet often fall short of nothing but bewildering pretentiousness.
Not to say the entire album is a failure, though. Opening song, "Animals Jump," has an Arcade Fire influence in its grandiose sound-layered melodies over buoyant drum snaring-which deemphasize Wax Mannequin's (Chris Adeney) overbearing vocals. The song successfully evokes the jumping of animals through its quick tempo and snapping of drum sticks, establishing the album with an aural atmosphere of the wilderness. Excitingly, "Animals Jump" plays into another fast-paced melody on "Robots, Master and Lady," a song that pulls the listener into the industrial world of Wax Mannequin, where the clanking of metals and whistling melodies encapsulate the listener, giving the song a sense of confinement. However, Adeney's throaty vocals agonizingly screech throughout the chorus, while his heavy baritone stutters cluttered lyrics, "Boy you got the answer, but the cancer got you just in time."
Nothing compares to the failures when Orchard and Ire strips its experimental sounds from its sound, eschewing the main aspect of intrigue from the album-leaving only hollowed out drums to accompany Adeney's cloying vocals, like on the endlessly dragging "Animals Come Home." The album never recovers from its acoustic midpoint; rather, it regressively becomes stranger, focusing on long-winded narratives and painfully intimate song structures. By the time the songs revert back to electronic soundscapes, nothing can be salvaged from Orchard & Ire-the energy, focus, and cohesiveness of the album have disappeared, leaving only remnants of Wax Mannequin's potential behind.
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