Attack of the Grey Lanterns
published: 22 /
In the latest in this series, in which a different one of our writers writes about a favourite album of his or her choice, Laura Branch examines Mansun's 1997 debut 'Attack of the Grey Lanterns.'
Mansun’s protagonist, Paul Draper, sounds like Minnie Mouse, dances like a girl and writes lyrics that I find laughable, going as far as to paraphrase Jimmy Osmond with “…You’ll be a taxloss lover from Liverpool…”. Despite this, 'Attack of the Grey Lantern' is what I would tentatively, yet ultimately without doubt, label as my favourite album; which for someone whose tastes lean predominantly towards the indiepop side of things, is perhaps surprising. I say tentatively as I am very dubious about committing myself to a favourite anything. It requires anorak wearing levels of analysis and then, if I may be a little pompous for a moment, I always feel that, as an art form, music is beyond any kind of hierarchical classifications. Hohum.
Although I don’t actually revere Mansun, and my reasons for liking this album so much are quite intangible, I always find myself returning to them. Mansun are the constant in my musical world. Like my favourite warm cardigan, 'Attack of the Grey Lantern' performs a multiplicity of functions.
I often ponder as to whether I would have survived my later, exam filled, school years were it not for Mansun. Many an essay has been written with their assistance. I find listening to them is never just that – it is far from a passive experience and I’m only too happy to help Mr Draper out with the vocals… Perhaps the fact that they are capable of satisfying the frustrated musician / karaoke singer in all of us is one of the reasons as to why I like them so much.
When the album was released in 1997, it didn’t have much of an impact upon me and was bought several years later more out of a sense of duty than an overriding desire to listen to it . I discovered however, that with Mansun, you can escape into a world of love and hate and stripper vicars. The sound is reminiscent of a certain era in music when a vaguely glam sound which countered with orchestral interludes was in vogue, and the kohl pencil ruled supreme.
Despite the flaws, to me, this album has no flaws. It should be listened to frequently, yet sparingly, and definitely loudly. But I must go now and re-immerse myself in their comfortingly familiar doctrine of witty vitriol.