ManDancing didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. It’s a tale as old as time: singer/songwriter makes record in New Jersey basement, band forms, label signs them and then waits 3 years for a new piece of music.
They were once described as sounding like “if Death Cab for Cutie were having a mental breakdown.” Frontman, Stephen G Kelly, says the band name might as well be “For Fans of Manchester Orchestra” due to how often the comparison gets tossed about. The band, however, liken themselves to a modern day Journey, for reasons that aren’t so obvious or valid.
Their sophomore LP ‘The Good Sweat’ is a ride. We’re not talking your family friendly local farm hay-ride either. It is a rollercoaster. Upon entry, the dialed-in ambient drones give way to Kelly contemplating whether or not he should even strap in, and before he can come to a conclusion, the rest of the band pull you into the first descent of its cathartic depths immediately before soaring to thrilling heights.
Centered around Kelly’s fumbling acoustic guitar, each instrument has its unique voice that when laced together, make for a beautifully controlled chaos. Drums that push you to the edge of reason and back home to safety mesh perfectly with the playful yet business-like bass guitar. The electric guitars dance neatly at the ends of the rails, and provide a vast environment for Kelly’s vocals to swim within. Lyrically, Kelly struggles with the dark trenches of his psyche, while searching for reasons to keep moving forward with spirit.
It is at times overwhelming, yet the passenger is never made to feel like the floor has completely fallen out. Have you ever awoken from the panic of a nightmare, relieved to discover that you were only dreaming? Moments like this are strewn all over this steadfast amusement park dragon. That’s the feeling of ‘The Good Sweat.’ ManDancing live for it.