Friday, August 10, 2012

Wax Mannequin: "No Safe Home" (album review)

With the release of his sixth full length album, No Safe Home, Hamilton's Wax Mannequin further solidifies his status as one of Canada's best kept folk secrets.

Unlike the vast majority of folk artists, Wax Mannequin never bores.

The record kicks off with the rustic, almost fireside folk of "Black Bells" (later revisiting in an instrumental form).  On that song he creates a feeling of loneliness, but a loneliness that is warm and cozy.  That's in stark opposition to the desolate, wintry "Other Part".

Entering the realm of creepy is "Beware".  The eerie feeling is in keeping with the best of American Gothic murder balladry.

Few musicians get as much mileage out of a simple whistle as Wax Mannequin.  On tracks like "The Water" and "Body Black Body White" it's the whistle that provides the melody that sucks you into the cogs of the clockwork guitar strum.  He attains a similar effect with the catchy backing vocals on "Bison".

The album's highlight is the closing number "PB".  Apparently standing for 'power blaster', Wax Mannequin creates an Absurdist folk ditty, filled with gibberish and a singalong refrain that equals anything produced by Mellow Gold-era Beck.

It's impossible to explain why some musicians catch fire and others, seemingly more worthy ones don't.  Why is the bland, droning Bon Iver a phenomenon when the eloquently, creative, entertaining Wax Mannequin toils in near obscurity?  Some things just remain a mystery.

Best tracks: "PB", "Black Bells"

Track listing for No Safe Home:
  • Black Bells
  • Beware
  • Body Black Body White
  • Other Part
  • Out on the Water
  • Bison
  • The Water
  • Don't Want To Go
  • Black Bells
  • PB


Anonymous said...

Amen! I love this album.

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