Serena-Maneesh - Serena-Maneesh

As least once or twice a year, with a regularity that you can set your watch to, the pundits start lining up to proclaim loudly and effusively about ‘The Next Big Thing'. ‘The Next Big Thing' is always described with adjectives like ‘intoxicating', ‘exciting', ‘bewitching' and ‘un-miss able' despite the fact that often adjectives such as ‘confusing', ‘derivative', ‘boring' and ‘hyped to buggery' would be far more fitting.


The problem with this hype is not only does it create an atmosphere for the easily swayed to critically laud those who are largely undeserving, it also disallows the hyped act to grow, make mistakes or be appreciated for their music alone.


And here we come to Norway's Serena-Maneesh's debut, self titled long player. Critically lauded by both Pitchfork and UK's Drown Sound with decent positions in last year's record polls and with a pedigree of players including Sufjan Stevens, one would expect that this album would be something of a sonic orgy of unbridled aural bliss. Sadly, Serena-Maneesh is an album that gives you the sonic orgy, but leaves you feeling cold, dirty and used when it doesn't call you back.


There are a lot of things right about this album, it is enjoyable enough to listen to and if you like the overriding anticipatory sound and continuous blasts of ethereal singing not to mention the odd bit of musical experimentation, then you will surely see this as an album to keep on heavy rotation in your CD Player or iPod.


Unfortunately, for this reviewer, there are a number of problems with this album that no amount of hype can force me to ignore.


For starters, the tracks ‘Drain Cosmetics', ‘Un-Deux' and ‘Sapphire Eyes' all sound too similar, almost as if they were reprises of each other rather than individual songs in their own right. Furthermore, many of the songs have far too much going on in them, so unless you happen to be listening to the album in 5.1, much of it gets lost in mix and the song ends up going nowhere. Further to this is the often jarring and non-sensical dynamics within individual songs. This problem is best exemplified in ‘Don't Dome Down Here' where a straightforward and quite beautiful song is totally fucked up by a inexplicable wall of noise thrown haphazardly in the middle of it. Call me out of touch with the avant-garde if you wish, but to use the term ‘experimental' to cover a misconceived fuck up, is even too much for the most easily lead to forgive.


Moreover, the lashings of My Bloody Valentine are more than just a nod and a wink. I even played this album to my best friend who is a huge MBV fan without telling her who it was and she was convinced it was a new MBV album. As this is Serena-Maneesh's debut album, it is only natural that they are going to wear their influences on their sleeve, and I sincerely hope that by their next release they will have defined a sound which is purely their own rather than a rehash of their influences, for to do that is selling oneself short, and I can see that despite the limitations of this album, -Maneesh really do have a lot to offer.


Whilst this review sounds like an absolute panning, it isn't. The album is good, but it lacks the requisite light, shade and texture to make it a truly great album. There is a lot going on here, but not always in the right places or towards a cohesive effect.


The best analogy I can give for the experience of listening to Serena-Maneesh is that it is like shagging all night but not coming… enjoyable enough, but with gives no real sense of satisfaction nor inclination to kick back and light up a cigarette afterwards. Hopefully, by their sophomore release, Serena-Maneesh will be a little more considerate and make sure that we both finish.

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