Philadelphia’s Mannequin Pussy have quietly spent their past three years perfecting their craft, and upon releasing their most recent album, Patience, that work becomes evident. In contrast to 2016’s Romantic, a frenetic seventeen-minute-long album that begs to be listened to over and over so that one can catch its nuances, Patience clocks in at twenty-five minutes. The extra time feels extravagant, inviting the listener to succumb to the world encapsulated within it. It seems that the band is hitting their stride, producing music that is complex and poetic, and critics agree.  

When speaking to Marisa Dabice, Mannequin Pussy’s front woman and guitarist, it’s difficult to miss the sureness with which she uses her words. This sureness translates into the music nearly effortlessly; she is powerful and unafraid, right there, commanding the listener. The band is stuck in traffic just outside of Asheville, North Carolina when we begin talking, and the excitement of being back on the road is audible. “[Playing these songs] feels like a huge relief. I feel like we toured past the mental inspiration of the last record, just because we kept getting cool and fun opportunities, but at a certain point it became boring not being able to share all of these songs we were working on. It feels like this big secret is out, that we can finally share.” 

The process of creating Patience was done over three years, with the music being workshopped live as they recorded and toured for Romantic, and as support for acts such as Turnover, Slothrust, and Joyce Manor. “We really like to workshop our songs live so we can kind of get a sense of the energy and timing and see how they evolve as we play them,” says Dabice. “We were also touring a lot at the time, and that made some of the writing a bit more complicated, and we were writing much more sporadically. Once we had a bit of a longer break, that’s when we were able to buckle down and concentrate on what it was that we wanted to create together.”

Dabice herself acts as the emotional anchor of the band, the music’s raw vulnerability and uncompromising musicality centering in on her vocal performance and lyricism. “I don’t necessarily wear those vulnerabilities clear out on my sleeves… I feel a little more tucked away and presentable when I need to be, and I don’t really tend to share really deep things until I get to know someone,” she notes. “Not in a secretive or a fake way, but I think it’s a little more socially acceptable to be strong and together. Whatever the storm of emotions is that I feel, with music that’s really your place to put it. I think that they lend themselves better to stories and song.” 

Her storytelling is evident in one of the album’s singles, “Drunk II,” a song detailing the aftermath and self-destruction that follows in the wake of a gnarly break up. Dabice takes the hits and throws them, and the song becomes a perfect and relatable volley of insult and hurt. Thematically, Dabice also mentions that after listening and assessing both Romantic and Patience that certain patterns became evident. 

“It’s definitely interesting once you’re in the process of writing up lyrics to kind of see what words pop out the most. I remember on Romantic, I was like ‘Oh my god, I just used the word feeling like, ten times,’ and so I didn’t want to use [the word] at all on Patience. Then, on Patience, I found that the word ‘unlearned’ popped up on a number of songs.”

The musicality of the album, though, is a collaborative affair, built from years of friendship and an easy going experimental attitude. One fascinating aspect of this album is hidden away in the first half of it—a few lines written in Spanish on the song “Cream.” To include this choice was the idea of bassist Colin “Bear” Regisford. “I don’t think that anyone in the band knew that I could speak Spanish until like two years ago when we went to Spain—we played Primavera [festival] there—and I started speaking to the audience in Spanish. [Bear] had talked to me then… like, have I ever thought about writing a song in Spanish, or singing a song in Spanish, and it was something I thought of for a while.” 

Dabice is self-taught and fluent, but the reason behind her learning the language comes from her family ties to Puerto Rico. Dabice refers to the Spanish language as limitless for poetic expression, making it perfect for songwriting. “When we were recording ‘Cream’… I thought that would work really perfectly for that kind of breakdown. The lyric is from a poem written in English that translated itself very well into Spanish—the correct amount of syllables and attack that those words have.” 

Patience is a work that has received an incredible amount of critical praise from a number of outlets and has managed to sell out most of the show dates on tour. Mannequin Pussy are on their way up, guided forward by their true-to-self nature. The music will speak for itself, and the energy of those who make it will capture audiences time and time again.

BE SURE TO CATCH MANNEQUIN PUSSY TONIGHT, SEPTEMBER 18, AT ROUGH TRADE NYC IN WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN, AND ON THURDSAY, SEPTEMBER 19, IN PHILADELPHIA AT FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH.

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