REVIEW: Maniac – Mania


Artist: Maniac
Album: Mania
Genre: Indie rock

When presented with this release, it was safe to say I had high expectations. Maniac is a project comprising of Shawn Harris, formerly of the Matches, and Jake Grigg, from Something with Numbers, and this- Mania– marks their debut album. Considering the success of the Matches, it was presumably hard for Harris to start from scratch and with a new direction. This is evident from Mania.

With a quirky beginning in that of “Thank Each Mistake,” there is a sense of chaos throughout the record which works in some parts and is mismatched in others. There is definitely evidence of the previous bands which make up Maniac, but there doesn’t seem to be a comfortable direction that the band aimed for. This is also reinforced by the schizophrenic “Give it Up” which has the strangest slowed down, almost eighties sounding, part near the end. It just doesn’t seem to fit.

While not being a bad release by any standard, there seems to be an overuse of ‘bells and whistles’ which is detrimental to the lyrics and base music content. If a few of the songs were to be stripped down a little, “Our Darkest Hour” for example, I think this record would be more commendable. Opposed to being poignant and dark, it borders on confusing and detached, something which is actually quite underlying throughout the entire record.

That being said, the band has definitely giving themselves something to build upon and work with. Individually, numerous songs would stand well on their own and would not be unsuited to daytime radio play. “Just Say Yes” has a definite positivity that is refreshing and would be sure to go down well at a live show. The same could also be said for “”Whatever Twirls Ya World” (despite the somewhat surreal title).

As an album, the sense of cohesion of a great album is missing, but the songs are not half bad. Maybe if the band took away a few (just a few!) of the extra effects, there could be more credit given, but until then, it just misses the mark for me.

Score: 6/10
Review written by: Naomi Carson

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Doogle Lawless

    I have to disagree, unfortunately. Mania is by far the best album of 2011… Nothing in this years future could take over the place in my heart that this album has taken. There is a lot of sounds to comprehend, yes, but the originality of their music comes out in these mismatched effects. The grungy guttural guitar and harmonic use of voice go together in a way that not only freshens up the recently dead and boring music scene but also, in it’s own way, plays tribute to the artist’s origins. The way these guys create their music is enough to convince me that music is still alive. We won’t all be listening to terribly built electro pop chart stuff (Not that I dislike all that comes from the charts).
    If anyone reading this hasn’t heard Maniacs masterpieces, get on it like sonic and give them a listen. You will not regret it.