There is something bittersweet about the latest release REACTION ARROW from the Manvils. That is why I choose the Jukebox Banjo Sour IPA.
After our interview (coming soon), I promised Mikey an album review. He suggested I write it while having a local Micro Brew. Lucky for me, Cheers Boutique is just down the street in Pointe St-Charles.
Reaction Arrow was born from loss, that bitter Sudden News that turns your world sour. When life hands you lemons…no. Life is not that easy. We navigate the sour and the sweet on a day to day basis, but that sour taste is also what wakes us up to the realization that life is short.
The Manvils combined a hard, personal decade with the good news you can wait a lifetime to get: A new life, a daughter.
A killer Sudden News starts us off with a summer anthem that awakens your imagination to the possibility that Robert Smith (The Cure) joined Arcade Fire in the early days. “It ain’t easy” belts Mikey as the song grows in intensity, finally giving us a small Clash/Reggae break to catch our breath, long enough for the song to reach its whirlwind ending.
Meanwhile, the beer has this tart citrus flavour that is well balanced and goes down easy. This parallels how I feel about this first song.
Soft Shoulder is a song about Mikey’s wife, that strong person who creates the safe space to lay one’s head and get a respite from the harsh realities of life. With sweeping guitar riffs that remind me of Big Sugar, the song moves between intensity and softness with a hint of blues.
The best part of touring is the friendships you forge while doing the grind. The Zoobombs (Japan) are a band that made that connection that can cross vast oceans. Gathering the energy of that Japanese band, Zoobombs Away moves to attack mode and sound bombs descent from all angles. I picture Jello Biafra flying the bomber that sports the cover and laughing maniacally as he counts back from 5 and drops his bombs. Of course, destruction is not the objective, but rather dropping sonic missiles of energy to awaken us from our slumber. This is the song we want to see live as Mikey reaches the heights of whatever venue he will be in and drops this song onto our heads.
Pony Up, another homage to a band (Pony Show) give us an intensity break. Just like the aftertaste of my Sour IPA, a band of friends leaves that aftertaste when they are not there, and we long for more.
Reaction Arrow starts with a big bass line, that pushes us farther into the song. Like the chemical reaction the song geeks about, time is linear, and we can only push further. As we move through time and we come into contact with others, we pick up their energy and bounce off them with new momentum. Maybe we decide to stop our forward motion and pass the pick to the next generation.
It’s time to break open a La Knowlton Co. Petite DDH Oat Cream IPA. Like the guitars in the song, I get a big hit of hops that feels overpowering but is balanced just right. That creaminess helps bridge the intensity with the smoothness of the song.
For some reason, this song appears to last for only a brief moment, so I had to listen to it twice in a row. Maybe it’s a reminder on how brief life is. Best to bounce when we need to, and make sure of the more important things.
Expats is up next, the most political of the bunch. Redone to fit the sound of this album, it features soaring guitar solos to impress its point.
Championships is a deeply personal song, but it can mean whatever it should for you. It starts off with that 70s vibe when rock was a revolution. I picture myself driving in a panelled van with some airbrushed howling wolf on the side, speeding to some important destination without a care in the world, head-banging to the 8-Track.
Amplified comes out of left field. Memories of the studio that captured so many Manvils songs. Having someone believe in you is life-changing. To have someone not only believe in you but sacrifice financially for you, can power a jet engine. This song reminds us that there are those that believed in us, at least I hope you have them, and fuel our journey farther. To these ones, I take a sip of my Oat Cream IPA and say thank-you.
Costume Jewellery is about the heritage we lose across generations. We may be left with a ring or two, but we would trade it all for the stories of courage and survival. Love the guitar groove on this one, which I picture with the signature Who circle strumming.
Tambourine Era takes us on a psychedelic train to the unknown. As we speed through the landscape, we pay homage to those rock icons that came before and led the way. Solid rhythm section holds the song on the track as it barrels across the country.
Like the two beers I sampled as I listened to this album start to finish, the album starts with this strong burst of flavour. No matter how delicious that first track is, it’s the complexity of the flavours that follow that round off the experience.
This is Canadian Indie Rock at its finest. Complex in flavour and not afraid to tackle big subjects, hidden behind catchy guitar riffs and distorted vocals. Start to finish, it’s an emotional journey that not only allows us to feel but allows us to experience the bittersweet journey of life.
This record is best listened to using headphones as the band dies a little each time one listens off a phone.
Download the album today, but make sure to pick up a vinyl copy (if any are left) as life is too short to listen to crappy music. This is a complex bouquet of emotions and sounds that leaves me wanting another song and another pint!
Stay Tunes for an exclusive 2-part Interview with Mikey where we dissect the new album track by track. Only on Montreal Rocks!
Article: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs.Share this :