Manda and the Marbles - More Seduction (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Manda and the Marbles

More Seduction (2002)

Go Kart

Thanks to today's technology I have created the all-American rock and roll family. Down the street from my Sims alter-ego live my favorite neighbors, the Royals, headed by patriarch Joey Ramone and his wife Patti Smith. Henry Rollins is the oldest to his kid sisters Liz Phair and Manda Marble, who is the youngest and on the verge of her breakthrough to the same recognition her family has already achieved. Sure, this is a reality that only exists on my hardrive, but Manda Marble is definitely the product of my virtual familial influence. It's easy to hear Liz's voice and Joey's songwriting in the music on More Seduction, the deluxe edition of the sophomore effort by Manda and the Marbles, for it is every bit feminine, fun, energetic, and sometimes even a little serious, beginning with the song "Dangerous" and ending with "Seduction" this girl will break your heart while she's making you smile. In my Sims world Manda (vocals, bass guitar, keyboards) learned about Liz Phair's "Flower" while attending "Rock and Roll High School", but this girl rocks no less in the real world. Unfortunately I can't write the same praises for the Marbles, Joe A. Dama'ge on guitar and Mark Slak on drums, whose unreliable and uneven playing overshadow the smart pop-punk songwriting of their frontwoman, making this record a hard one to listen to at times.

Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, the music of Manda and the Marbles is the result of midwest middle-class life, free of the grit of East Coast punk but not quite as razor-sharp as West Coast power-pop. A place where trends and genres arrive a little after the fact and slightly watered down, this record invokes the spirit and sound and attitude of early pop punk such as the Ramones, Blondie, and even the Bangles and the Go-Go's. A role that Manda not only comes across as comfortable in but also credible, her voice light and youthful, and her songs never drop below a quick party tempo (or fall into a minor key), giving "New Wave" a voice for today's scene.

Good clean fun is the name of the game here, even the song "Dead by Dawn", despite the morbid title, is a workout in terms of good vibrations. As far as songwriting goes, there isn't a dud on this record, each song following a similar formula that works extremely well. It's hard not to get sucked into this record and rock out to Manda's athemic pop songs, but the playing on this record is a major buzzkill. Manda's voice is solid and the aesthetic quality of double-tracking her voice provides a nice presence over the music. Her bass playing is solid as well and her key playing is adequate as background filler. Her bandmates, however, fail to meet her skill and as a result taint her songs. Mark Slak struggles the entire record to stick with the beat, often falling behind and placing uneven hits everywhere on his kit. Joe A. Dama'ge fails to put any personality into his playing and his right hand isn't strong enough to put the down picks where they need to be. With music this fun, all personnel needs to be proficient and personable in their playing, and it's not enough have one-third of a trio doing her job correctly.

Perhaps the problem comes from the way in which this record was recorded, and not solely the fault of the band's skill. If all the instruments were recorded at separate times (without the musicians playing together) then I can see where the instruments fail to lock in, but if this album was recorded in the traditional method, I think Manda should trade in her Marbles. Then and only then will Manda make the breakthrough she deserves, and do my virtual family proud.