‘Jack’s Ghost EP’ comes from the young Manifesto; a threesome of Dundalk natives with a whole host of accolades for their youth and musical promise.
Right from the off, they deserve their credentials. The opener Yellow (But Not Really) shows some mighty promise. Not unlike a My Bloody Valentine before the buckling grind of adult life sets in, or a Tim Wheeler on a sugar high, it shows a host of positives; inventive variety, clever choices, good production and a whopping chorus.
On the flip side, this is where the first flags of warning appear; the vocals do well to keep the right side of the Placebo ‘whining-line’, which doesn’t last long.
Get Along fits in better with some of their more melodramatic ‘chugga-chugga’ pop punk influences and comes across as more formulaic and by-the-book than track one. Lacking the punchy simplicity – or imagination – of the Undertones via Green Day, the lads instead veer towards flashy playing which often comes across as one small step beyond them.
The third track is Can’t Sleep, and it suggests the three-piece knows their audience; the memorable and participant-welcoming chant-chorus is sure to get them favour with their similar-aged fanbase, and it is this and a pleasantly dirty guitar tone that saves what could ultimately be a forgettable song. By this stage it’s clear that Yellow… might be more of an anomaly than a chosen deviation, which is a shame.
That said, the final track, All That You Are, does its best to keep hopes high, adopting a looser feel. Unfortunately, it’s a variation on a theme; the lose rhythm feels at odds with the nasal, over-Americanised vocal delivery that again hails back to pop punk influences.
It’s not the first time that we hear convincing backing vocals, and they really put their all into the climactic chorus, complete with ‘wah-wah’, overlapping vocals and Oasis-esque lyrics – “You are a bird in the sky, there ain’t no reason why, you can’t see what have you done, what have you become?”
You be the judge of whether this is another aspect that may need rebooting.
A maturity, which cannot be forced, will help Manifesto settle into their sound and allow their songs to be what they are, rather than trying to force themselves up a greasy totem pole. This, as evident here, is especially tough for young rock drummers to learn; while many indie drummers start out emulating the flashy yet inconsistent Matt Tong, there’s a lot to be said for a solid Sam Fogarino.
Without such strong foundations, the buildings aren’t going to stay up too long. Doubt not; in time Manifesto will have a strong enough base to build themselves a fortress. Until then, we can all stick the EP opener on repeat.