[20 August 2007]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
Hamilton, Ontario’s Wax Mannequin is one of those acts where if I try to describe its excessively eccentric music, it’d be impossible to get the message across that this one-man band is actually really good, because you’d probably have run off in the opposite direction midway through my description. Or perhaps you’re interested in a Tom Waits sound-alike spewing poetry inspired by Frank Zappa and Don Van Vliet over an arrangement that alternates between aggressive hard rock bordering on metal, lofty progressive rock, Iron and Wine-style bedroom folk, or bouncy indie pop. If you are, then singer-songwriter Chris Adeney has what you’re looking for on his confounding yet hugely enjoyable new album. He channels the Flaming Lips on the ebullient “Animals Jump”, “Robots, Master and Lady” carries itself with a boisterous rawk swagger, “Power Goes” is bolstered by a fun synth hook and dance-inspired beats, “Price Paid” is driven by the maniacal drumming of Aidan Campbell, and “Everything Proper” taskes a much more rusted, rustic route, but the clear winner is the moving “Almost Everyone”, which tones down the histrionics just enough to catch us off guard. Ambitious, deliriously unfocused, and nowhere near as self-important and precious as you’d think, Orchard & Ire is nuts enough to work.