Manners Matter

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Brooklyn-based indie pop trio Mancino follows its 2005 EP Dear International with its first full-length CD, Manners Matter, the title giving some indication of the band's fussy, lightweight stylishness. The group has a spare, melodic sound in which guitarist Michael Grimes, keyboard player Nadim Issa, and drummer Jonathan Mason are each distinct participants. There is some similarity to the early Talking Heads, and that is accentuated by Grimes' singing, by the stop-and-start rhythms, and by Grimes' lyrics, which are quirky and amusing, beginning with the first track, "Circus Scabs," no doubt the first song written about the subject of replacement workers at "the county carnival" and how "ill at ease" they are "Because the picket lines are on our case." Elsewhere, Mancino invents strange dances ("Hetchie Hutchie Footchie") and drifts down Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal to the ocean ("Motels"). With titles like "Five Blades," "Monster Trucks," and "Buy My Product," it often seems as though Grimes writes his words by falling asleep in front of the TV and then jotting down impressions that occur to him when he wakes up. But his observations are often charming, especially when wedded to Mancino's pop arrangements.

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