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5 out of 10
Note to all fame-hungry bands out there - if you're going to sell your artistic souls for product placement, always do so after your cool and moody faces are all over the news-stands, not before. No doubt driven mad by the constant mispronunciation of their name, Carlisle's Mister Mañana have ignored this sage advice and arrive with this, their fourth self-produced EP. Musically, it's hard to fault. There's plenty of light and shade, managed flawlessly on the whole (Human Fly's rushed, incongruous brass section notwithstanding). The monstrous, made-for-stadia riffs recall Soundgarden at their doom-laden best, or Mogwai at their least fuzzy. There is epic balladry and we even tickle the toes of Prog. You'll notice I haven't mentioned the singing yet.
Ah yes. The singing. Described elsewhere as 'like drinking syrup from a razorsharp (sic)-edged tin can' (From a positive review, if you're wondering), Andy Bartlett's voice gives a quite schizophrenic performance. During opener Capricorn, for example, it seems to be aiming for E. Vedder but arrives at K. Cobain via D. Filth, rather at odds with the loping, smooth and rock-heavy melody. This holds for much of the EP - the vocals just don't seem huge enough to match the music. The Passing Of is the best on offer here, an epic, Pearl Jammed ballad in which Bartlett manages to match the shifting darkness of the song well. Witch Hunting promises much and the first half delivers, only for it to fade into feedback after five minutes and return as one of those acoustic interludes on early Black Sabbath albums. Mark Lanegan apparently materialises to sing and there seems to be Isobel Campbell singing drunkenly in the background. Have we stumbled into 'hidden bonus track' territory? If so, it could do with being hidden better.
Perhaps more Wrongbow and less Caprisun need to be drunk before the next release. And may I suggest Jak Dan-Yulls?
2. Human Fly
3. The Passing Of
4. Witch Hunting