Today is World Goth Day and we shall post accordingly…

140 Character Reviews is an occasional reoccurring post where we take a highly anticipated album and record our impressions of it track-by-track as we hear it for the first time. We withhold the right to change our minds a few listens later.

I’ve been a Marilyn Manson fan since Antichrist Superstar. I’ve seen him in concert three times, most recently playing a double-bill with Slayer where he held his own. I consider The Golden Age of Grotesque to be an incredible album, the highwater point where Manson found a way to fuse his spooky carnival barker and his anarchistic weirdo without trying to be everything to everybody goth. That said, his last two albums, Eat Me, Drink Me and The High End of Low, have not been the commercial successes he likely wanted, even if they did produce a handful of really strong songs. Born Villain is his eighth studio album.

  • Hey, Cruel World: This blasts off with urgency, although the track, as a whole, is a little uneven. It’s not nearly as good as “This is the New Shit,” or “If I was Your Vampire,” as far as opening songs, and ranks somewhere behind “Devour.”
  • No Reflection: Very strong track. The kind of song that would play great live. I particularly like the “Ra-oh-ha-ha-ohhhh” refrain.
  • Pistol Whipped: Best song so far. Classic, controversial MM song about a twisted couple who co-mingle sex with bloody violence.
  • Overneath the Path of Misery: Distorted spoken word intro that kicks into a nice NIN-inspired blast of dark electronica. There’s a lot going on here. It’s like a slice of crazy between two pieces of moldy bread, but it kind of works.
  • Slo-Mo-Tion: Sounds like a lost track from Mechanical Animals. MM rails against reality TV, I think, while experimenting with different chord breaks. Too weird to be a single, for sure, but not awful.
  • The Gardener: Bizarre spoken word song about not fitting in. Very experimental. Not great.
  • The Flowers of Evil: Halfway mark. This is definitely an album for headphones. Nearly every song has spoken murmurs or noodling in the background.  Best chorus of any song so far, but not the best song by far.
  • Children of Cain: Part of me wants to dismiss this as Glenn Danzig trying to pen a Led Zepplin-esque epic. Part of me likes the phrasing that Manson has crafted. Final feeling – indifference.
  • Disengaged: More talking, followed by screaming. Awful chorus. First song I skipped through. Nine songs in, and so far I only like two of them.
  • Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms: I wanted to love this song. It hooked me immediately through the first chorus, then lost me, then hooked me again, then lost me. Totally frustrated when it’s over.
  • Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day: First knock-down, hard rocking song on the disc, but by the halfway mark, I was still on the fence. Not a good sign. Am I getting too old to appreciate MM?
  • Born Villain: Another missed opportunity. A title track called “Born Villain” should be a Grand Slam for Manson. It’s a bunt single. At best.
  • Breaking the Same Old Ground: Prophetic summation for this album? It’s starting to look that way. This ballad pales compared to “The Nobodies” or “Long Hard Road Out of Hell.” Manson needs a new shtick, and I’m saying that as a fan.
  • You’re So Vain: Third good song on the album, and it’s a cover. Manson has a way with interpreting other artists. This ranks right up there with his version of “Tainted Love.” I see this getting lots of airplay, which is deserved.
  • No Reflection (Radio Edit): Clocks in 1:25 shorter than the unedited version. I prefer the longer version, but the radio edit is strong.

Final thoughts: Manson should have ended the album with “You’re So Vain,” so he went out on a high note. Out of 14 new songs, I only liked three. The good news is those three songs are really good. The bad news: Most of the album left me completely indifferent. To call this a major disappointment would be an understatement.

Marilyn Manson – Sweet Dreams (AIV thinks this was the best song MM ever recorded and would even say that it’s better than the original)