“We Lose Ourselves in Familiar Places”
Manatree, the four-piece indie rockers from Richmond, Virginia, have no problem taking their time. They’ll tell you their first album took six years to compile, and once you give Manatree a listen, you’ll hear just how calculated each track is. And the amount of fine-tuning from these young musicians (in 2009 they were still in junior high) was worth the wait.
“Fat Jackson” starts it off with the intention to have a good time. Jack Mayock’s soothing, calm, cool, collected vocals mixed with the fast, upbeat tempo from Alex Elder’s drums and high-pitched guitar from Tristan Fisher are a lovely combination.
And it doesn’t stop after the first song. Each math-rock track has been carefully hand-crafted. While Manatree cites many of their influences as local bands from the Richmond area, it sounds like they’ve also taken notes from the best of the best: The electric guitar in “Animal Quietlies” shares similarities to a Blink-182 track. The tempo changes sometimes remind you of a Minus the Bear track. And Mayock’s vocals are comparable to Pete Weiland’s from A Great Big Pile of Leaves.
Lyrically, Manatree wavers from nostalgia like in “All Our Old Friends” to the anxiety of the unknown, like in the quieted down acoustic track “Children”: “The time we lost it was never wasted … It doesn’t matter now …We were young, and the world was children / And every day we could fill and fill but now it’s down and out.”
Manatree set out to play some music for the sake of playing and having fun all the way back in their middle school days and did not at all lose sight of that vision on Manatree. They might still be young, but they are acutely aware and influenced by a variety of music.