Peg it as you will – I have always and will always love Marilyn Manson. Sure, it started as a rebellious phase in high school to piss my parents off, but seven years later I’m just as excited for a new release from him as I was as a sophomore. His past two albums have made me weary and when I read that his label had dropped him after 2009’s The High End of Low, I was even more weary. Then interviews and appearances started cropping up for the new album and I began to get excited. When Manson dropped the first track from Born Villain, I knew he was back to his A game.
The album kicks off with Hey, Cruel World, which surprisingly reminds me of the old Manson – I’m talking back to the Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids. It sounds like a track off Portrait of an American Family from 1993 mixed with something from Golden Age of Grotesque. Manson’s scratchy vocals sound better than they have in years and the music backing is back to that slow yet gritty rock that your parents probably hated hearing.
No Reflection is the first track Manson dropped from this disc. It has the breathy effects of (S)AINT mirrored by a new light. I feel like even two tracks in, Manson has regained his faith in himself and his music. As a side note to this song, the video is pretty incredible, especially after I read some in-depth analysis of what was going on.
Show casing remnants from Mechanical Animals, Manson reflects in The Gardner, a track that has drums as heavy as wet snow and some intergalactic sound effects. The greater majority of this song is spoken word, keeping things interesting until the chorus erupts. I’m not man enough to be human, but I try to fit in and I’m learning to fake it.
Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day has some intense bass lines and some real clockwork of drumming happening. I think out of all fourteen tracks on this new album, this song feels the most classic Marilyn Manson. In true fashion, the title is quasi-shocking and the lyrics are largely indistinguishable to the untrained ear. This one really makes me feel like I should turn my headphones up full blast and turn off all the lights in my room just to relive my teenage years.
The album wraps up with the interesting cover of You’re So Vain (originally by Carly Simon). And to make things even more interesting? Johnny Depp is on this track with Manson dropping some rough bass lines. Some of you may have seen some recent concert footage of Depp joining Manson on stage for a few songs, so I’m not totally shocked. This version is, of course, a much heavier, coarser version of the original, but I’m not bothered by it. It’s something I could definitely get into.
Manson comes back stronger than he has in a few years with Born Villain. I was nervous about it since his past two albums have been a little off balance, but this one puts him right back on top. This isn’t as dark and ominous as some Manson albums, so it’s pretty accessible to people who may not be familiar with his whole catalog, but it’s still true enough that long-time fans will feel a connection. I love it.
Breaking the Same Old Ground (track 13)
Hey, Cruel World (track 1)
Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day (track 11)