Manflu - Joys of Life (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
LONDON art-punk quintet Manflu unleash their Joys of Life LP and struggle to impress.
The culmination of two years of writing, gigging and recording, Joys of Life is billed a raucous, razor sharp, and visceral document of a band at the peak of its powers. It draws its inspirations from the likes of Can, Siouxsie and The Banshees and Devo, while comparisons have been made with Xmal Deutschland, Sonic Youth and Captain Beefheart.
In terms of what to expect, the art-punk sound also draws on western post-punk, prog and No Wave through to Eastern European Polka and 16-bit video game soundtrack. But barring the odd moment that captures the imagination, this falls down on its arty tendencies.
Quite often, tracks will begin well (Wizard and Holes in particular) before changing tempos and coming over all ‘art’ or ‘experimental’, ditching conventional structure in favour of sudden diversions and simply getting on your nerves. Holes is particularly frustrating, opening like a Siouxsie track, before then diverting into the kind of rollicking classic rock that might find its way onto a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack, before then losing the plot completely (from the point at which they start chanting “I have no money”).
At its worst, however, the album just annoys from the start – closing song Tek is a wall of noise and distorted rhythms that start off bad and just get worse. Ironically, it’s a live favourite and, ahead of the LP’s launch, was preceded by a promotional film.
Put together, this is more of a turn off than an inspiration that struggles to deliver even one song worth recommending.