Emily Jones || July 2016
It feels like its been an age for The Manalishi’s album to show its beautiful face, but finally the wait is over. With tracks taken from their ‘Wake Up Stoke’ EP released earlier in the year, ‘Memory Lane’ has landed and what an album it is.
’Memory Lane’ is a real piece of carefree rock ’n’ roll, from a band who aren’t afraid to say it like it is. Opening with ‘Lose Control’, ‘Mummies Little Hooligan’ and ‘So High’, The Manalishi begin their album with the sound that makes you want to get up and dance, in a whirlwind of angst and built-up frustration.
Possibly the most relatable track and one of the best examples of The Manalishi’s to-the-point lyrical style is ‘No No No’. One line that stands out as being the greatest summary of the current political situation has to be ‘little country in a big situation, the media feed you false information’. It doesn’t take much thought to work out the underlying inspiration for ‘No No No’, and it stands tall as being one of the best tracks of the album.
Another personal favourite (but definitely not one to play live on the radio) is ’Foul Mouth’. Vocalist Josh Alcock sounds particularly carefree, with his signature vocal style blaring out loudly and proudly over a punchy guitar riff. It’s loud and leery and makes you want to raise your middle finger in triumph, with a short and sweet chorus that you’ll be singing out of your car window - f***’s included.
‘Scream’ is built around a fluttering guitar riff that’s passed between both bass and electric guitar, creating a stripped back canvas for the verses to fall onto. The solid guitars and prominent drums form a heavy fist of a chorus that punches straight through the track, eventually sending the guitar spiralling out of control in the final minute. In contrast, ’Outta The Blue’ has a real groove, with a straight up funk guitar riff adding another dimension to what The Manalishi can do. ‘Sneaky Freaky opens with a rising intro that just has to be played at full volume in order to be fully appreciated. When it reaches its crescendo, ‘Sneaky Freaky’ has you on your feet, forgetting your troubles and reminding you why loved The Manalishi when they released ‘Alive’ and why you still love them now. ‘aaaave it!
Title track ‘Memory Lane’ and ‘Our Town’, both featured on the ‘Wake Up Stoke’ EP, reinstate the importance of guitars and drums to the band’s sound. Alcock’s vocals will always be one of the signature pieces to the Manalishi shaped puzzle, but without the percussion and chords, they’d be an entirely different band altogether.
‘Tell Tale Signs’, the penultimate track from ‘Memory Lane’, contains a long, progressing a guitar solo that could happily go on and on and on, but fades out perfectly before it gets chance to. Being a huge fan of letting the guitar do its thing, it’s possibly the only real negative I can find with ‘Memory Lane’, although ‘Tell Tale Signs’ remains one of the strongest of the bunch.
Finishing off ‘Memory Lane’ is acoustic finale ‘Cupid Is A Liar’, a song that is so far detached from the rest of the album, it wouldn’t be out of place as a B-side. It’s the perfect choice to close an album with, with Alcock’s vocals in isolation for the first time, giving you the chance to really hear the lyrics.
Through every crack, crease and inch of the album, ‘Memory Lane’ is a quality album. It’s been a long time coming, but The Manalishi have put together twelve songs of the strongest, finest, most culturally relevant, carefree, two-fingers-to-the-world standard.