“Mannequin Pussy” — a seriously provocative name for a four-piece band with serious talent. When the name first crossed my computer screen on Twitter, my first thought was, “I need this band in my life,” and I could not have been more correct. It’s no secret that the Daily is a fan of the band’s work. So when I sat down with them last Saturday before their set in Toledo and asked them why I couldn’t find anything about their tantalizing name, I couldn’t have been more startled by the response: “That’s because we don’t answer that question.”

The reply came from lead vocalist/guitarist Marisa Dabice, who followed up with: “Well, we have, but it’s just there’s no good story. Truly, I promise you.”

Thus began my ten minutes with the band, as we chatted about their phenomenal new LP Romantic, making music and touring with Joyce Manor and AJJ, some of punk’s most popular bands at the moment.

The most striking aspect of Mannequin Pussy’s music is its effortless differentiation and impressive blending of hardcore with poppy, even shoegazey tones. Each track is so wonderfully distinct, yet fits so comfortably into the rhythm of the record. Throughout its 17-minute run time, emotional intensity, vocal style and verse structure are produced in incredibly varied forms.

“We all have like a really diverse appreciation for different styles of music, and I think that easily kind of seeps into our writing style,” Dabice said.

Between structured pop anthems like “Emotional High” and paratactical heavy-hitter “Ten,” it’s astounding that the band was able to consolidate their different influences into a cohesive album. Dabice also gave some interesting insight on the writing of individual tracks.

“The lyrics usually come the very, very last. Sometimes when I’m recording them is when I finally figure out the flow that I want to be saying something,” Dabice said. “There’s some things where it’s like you know exactly that this is what you want to say, and this is how you want to say it.”

“And then sometimes when you allow yourself to just listen to a demo again and again and again, you find yourself going at it different ways until you find the thing that really feels right.”

Even with the lyrics filing in last, they’re still poignant and emotionally charged. Most notably is Dabice’s declaration “And I am not ashamed to be lonely / but I’m afraid to feel it so deeply” on opening track “Kiss.”

Dabice discussed with Bandcamp how the title Romantic refers to the idea of Romanticism, and dealing with human emotion. In our interview, Dabice expanded on how Romanticism applies to the title track.

“I’d say for me [“Romantic” is] probably the most personal song on the record. It was written maybe just a few weeks before we started recording the album,” Dabice said. “It’s definitely a very personal song, and so much of the Romantic Era is understanding your emotions and accepting them and seeing yourself through things … Is there a girl licking the window outside?”

“Yeah, she licked the window,” replied lead guitarist Thanasi Paul.

“This show is going to be wild,” Dabice said.

Mannequin Pussy are seasoned veterans of the wildness and unpredictability of the punk scene. In describing an incident where Joyce Manor’s drummer broke a pedal, Colins “Bear” Regisford said: “I was like, ‘Oh my god!’ And I immediately was like, ‘Kaleen, we need your kick pedal!’ But I forget that there’s a team of people who are just like ‘don’t worry’ and they just did it. It’s like, ohhh, this isn’t DIY anymore.”

Mannequin Pussy are embracing the comforts of touring beyond the DIY scene while still playing with the zeal of a DIY band in a basement.

“Things have a tendency to write themselves and to fall into place the way that they have to. And I think that things are definitely really starting to for us which is exciting,” Dabice said.

In gaining popularity, the band has found stability and deserved confidence, which was shown in their blistering performance.

Reflecting on this fierce performance, it’s clear that emotionality is what has brought the band so much attention. All of the sonic rage heard in the band’s work was fully unleashed in one beautiful, romantic performance. I recalled a particular statement from Dabice:

“I think there’s something very romantic about understanding the way that you feel and kind of allowing yourself to struggle through things as well. And to like be really open and honest about that.”

Provocative, mysterious band name aside, Mannequin Pussy’s most attention-demanding quality is their emotional honesty.

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