The Key Studio Sessions: Mannequin Pussy

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It’s certainly not inaccurate to call Philly’s Mannequin Pussy a punk band. We’ve described them that way quite a bit, and given the revved up guitars, vocal howls and minute-and-a-half songs that make this year’s Romantic such a gripping listen, it’s not entirely inaccurate. But sometimes “punk” can be a limiting bit of jargon, especially when used in the more puritanical sense — the definition that eschews ambitious production, or nuanced songwriting, or any kind of artistic complexity.

And complexity, no doubt, is compelling. It can be the dynamic tide of the album’s title track, or the interspersing of acoustic arrangements amid the fray. It can be frontwoman Marisa Dabice’s bold vocals that are as much of an emotional gut-punch on the tender melodies as they are on the visceral snarls. So in that regard, I would say that Mannequin Pussy are absolutely not punk, and all the better for it.

Likewise, Dabice’s current batch of songs is not easily defined. The album is not called Romantic in an ironic sense — these songs are indeed songs of love but not, you know, “love songs.” Not love songs in the sappy sense of simplistic sentiment and sweeping declarations of fidelity and goodness and happiness. Love is still a thing when life doesn’t go your way; love of oneself is as important as love of one’s loved ones. Love is complicated, punk is complicated.

Mannequin Pussy was awesome enough to perform live in WXPN Studios just before Romantic‘s release. The six-song set captures the full range: poppy hooks when “Emotional High” pays homage to loyalty and friendship, brutal aggression when “Pledge” makes the personal political. The band plowed across six songs in twelve minutes and you can listen to the entire thing below, or grab a download here, via Soundcloud.

To throw some visuals in the mix, watch a video of the band playing “Romantic” via VuHaus, or catch them in person this Sunday at Everybody Hits when Mannequin Pussy makes its way home from tour to play alongside The Spirit of the Beehive and Beth Israel. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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