The Manix - Neighborhood Wildlife (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Manix

Neighborhood Wildlife (2011)

It's Alive Records

The Manix are a gruff-vocaled pop-punk band from Minneapolis, Minn., so it's probably easy to figure out their influences. While listening to Neighborhood Wildlife, you'll hear bits and pieces that will draw to mind names like Dillinger Four, Dear Landlord and Banner Pilot, the latter making sense given that the Manix feature Banner Pilot's Corey Ayd on guitar and vocals. Add in the fact that the disc was mixed and mastered by Jacques Wait (who has worked with the Soviettes, Dear Landlord and Off With Their Heads, among others), there's a bit of instant familiarity with the release, which both works for it and against it.

The disc opens strong with "Fingers Crossed," a track that starts out mid-tempo but builds to a crashing (and catchy as hell) finish. "What's Myage Again?", a playful nod to the Descendents, is one of the standout tracks on the disc. The track reflects on the expectations that are placed on us as we age, with a shout-along chorus of "This place is faded / I think I may have failed it." The well-titled "She Believes in Jesus and Marketing" is another notable track, starting fast and building from there to the great closing line "I'm nothing but a heartsick heathen / I'm nobody but at least I mean it." The lyrics on the disc are quite good–they're bitter without being depressing, reflective without relying on nostalgia, and instantly relatable.

As the disc progresses through its 12 songs, its greatest strength and weakness are revealed. The biggest strength is that there are no bad tracks to be found among the 12, with each song standing on its own as a good, catchy pop-punk track. The weakness, however, is that after about five songs in, the disc starts to blur together, with songs occasionally failing to have much to distinguish one from the other. Tempos, structures and vocal melodies are often similar enough that the disc starts to drag a bit in the middle.

In our glowing review of the Manix's Van Activities EP, it was noted that the only downside it suffered from was the "customary brevity" of the EP format. It's perhaps ironic then that the biggest problem with Neighborhood Wildlife is the length of an LP–the disc would have made three great EPs, but as 12 consecutive tracks it suffers slightly from repetition. Despite this gripe, it's still a release that's easy to recommend to fans of the genre.

You can stream the album on the band's profile.