Kiss, baby, kiss.
Written: Jan 2, 2009
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
The Bottom Line: It's a complex, linear album. Weird, right? Regardless of what you wanna call it, it's the band's best work.
Marilyn Manson used to keep me up late nights for hours. His abrasive imagery would haunt me, and I would constantly keep my eye on the door, waiting for Mr. Manson to come creeping in. My room, which was flickering in TV light, became hell. Ironic that many years later, only a few months after the band would release The Golden Age of Grotesque, I'd become a fan. A big fan. In high school, it seemed only natural that I would either get into mainstream rock or goth rock. Guess I chose goth rock, though I wouldn't say I hate or love either. I love this record, which makes total sense since many, many fans thought it was sub-par, if not downright awful. But hey, if it were so bad, it wouldn't have captured as many people as it did.
I don't remember the exact person who recommended him to me, but I can remember more than one telling me about Mechanical Animals, another incredible record. All I know is that I thought he was mediocre until I heard mOBSCENE, a song that changed my whole perspective on (industrial) metal. Rather than hearing a gigantic mess of noise, I heard originality and something just clicked in my head. I wasn't a big fan of loud music before this record, so I'd have to say that it opened my ears, so to speak. When I got ahold of the rest of the album, I was entirely hooked and had to hear everything else I could get my hands on. This man, though he scared the living daylight out of me, was brilliant.
Much like his older works, Golden Age is another concept album, one with some stunning 1920-German-cabaret inspired artwork-- so I'm not sure why the band chose just a mediocre jacket cover. We start off with an introduction, Theater, a scratchy opening that irks you until the album kicks off. A film reel clicks in the background and some troubling sound effects begin before a Björk-inspired beat starts. Right off, there's something instantly different about this album than his previous works. Whereas his other works where a little more mellow-dramatic and a random assortment of loud sounds, Golden Age was going to be a cross between the accessible Mechanical Animals and the aggressive Antichrist Superstar. By the time This Is the New Shit starts, we're annoyed and just want the explosion to happen-- and boy does it. The hard production slugs you in the mouth at the chorus as Manson is at the front, wailing: Stand up and admit! Though his voice is scratchy as ever, it seems to have improved, actually following the melody and providing a subdued-demon-esque quality.
Once it's over, the momentrum is kept up by mOBSCENE, a metal fan's answer to Fergie's London Bridge and Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl. An anthem in every sense of the word, Manson challenges your mind and ears as the cheerleaders chant in the background: Be obscene! Be be obscene! Be obscene, baby! And not heard! It's sarcastic, catty, and little funny. It seems as if Manson is poking a little fun at his career rather than solely trying to shock people-- shows maturity (maturity that is now lost with the appallingly bad Eat Me, Drink Me).
Out of all the Manson albums, this one is the most linear. Whereas Antichrist Superstar and Holy Wood were heavily experimental with composition and lyrics, almost to the point where you can't understand a damn thing the band is playing, Golden Age is putting the message in your face with pure rock music. Slutgarden is driving, catchy, and overly snarky: I won't repent, so I memorized the words to the porno movie ... When I see me, you know I meant me; and when I sweet, I meant dirty. Rather than being a truly angry song, it's more like a kiss-off. This is a song to have on repeat, because the catchy bridge and chorus will be stuck in your head for weeks, if not months. For the first time in his career, Manson progressed with his music, rather than uses influences from other music (Pink Floyd? Nirvana?), and the result is instantly recognized as, well, good.
Use Your Fist and Not Your Mouth is an anthem for the ages and has the best chorus since The Fight Song from Holy Wood. And that's angry. It's not trying to be anything other than just downright pissed. off. Going back and listening to this album, ironically, brings up good memories when my only responsibility was conjugating verbs and taking out the garbage. This album may feed teenage angst, but it grew up with me, and it doesn't feel dated or weak. It's just as relevant as it was in 2004. [s]AINT is another song that grabbed me by the ear and forced me to play it over and over again. This song is allll about a spelling bee.
Okay, not really, but it's catchy. Despite it's annoyingly pretentious video, the song is epic, featuring Manson provokingly whispering during the chorus: What's my name? What's my name? Ha. Hold the S, because I am an Ain't... This track is a cross between the pure anger of Use Your Fist and slight self-deprecation on mOBSCENE. Rather than complaining, he's seems to be just stating a bunch of facts throughout the record. It's not an outcry for help, rather it's more or less stating content with the status quo. People looking for the angsty electronic work on Mechanical Animals should look elsewhere, because it's an entirely different animal, no pun intended. There's a difference between trying to be mad, and being mad, and there are songs on this record that personify rage; that said, though he's making statement like he always did, he's not whining. It's a fine line, but the band didn't cross it here.
The few slower songs Spade and The Golden Age of Grotesque are acquired tastes, the better of which being Spade, with its drowsy feel and quiet vocals. The Golden Age, however, may be slow, but it's still a slug in the face with its abrasive vocals and awkward cabaret melody. Both songs pack in a lot of atmosphere, but they will probably annoy a lot of people as they are two of the few songs that aren't anthems. Even these songs, though, mark a change in sound for the band-- Spade sounds like the type of song that cool have been on Holy Wood, except that it's sorrowful without being angsty. I think it's a little to intricate to be a Hot Topic theme song.
Before the record closes, be prepared to go back into the depths, because you're not going to get out alive without hearing Better of Two Evils, the final kiss-off, opening with: Haters call me bitch, call me fag*ot, call me whitey-- but I am something that you'll never be. It more or less pokes fun at any of those who are against Manson's look or music in a way that's almost diva-like. It'd expect Madonna to sing this song, though with less guitar and more disco. He's throwing a bitch fit, and you know you're loving it (though you wish you could hate it). It's unclear as to why fans are so down on this album. I think it sounds different than anything the group has ever done. If there's an album to shun, it's his latest. Vodevil takes us out by proclaiming "this isn't music, and where's not a band ... this is vaudeville!" It's one of the strongest tracks on the record, and it's comprised of about seven different hooks to draw you in. Regardless of what you think of Manson, the line "Kiss, baby, kiss!" is gonna be in your head. Manson speaks and sings so quickly and slickly that he's almost rapping.
Kiss, baby, kiss.
This Is the New Shit
Use Your Fist and Not Your Mouth
The Golden Age of Grotesque
The Bright Young Things
Better of Two Evils
The Death of Art