A double entendre involving his hometown and Marilyn Manson in the title isn't just the first thing that jumps out when listening to this latest Cex offering, his second of 2003. Like Being Ridden or 2001's Oops, I Did It Again!, the dark messy side of Rjyan Kidwell comes out straight away with the screaming near-horrorcore of "Drive Off a Mountain," before venturing into territory that was silently boiling under and slightly alluded to in most of his other work. Gone is the good-time kid-around vibe that is the hallmark of Cex's live performances, and in its place is a man troubled with his own identity and the identities of those around him. All but abandoning the glitch, drill'n'bass, and cut-and-paste elements that were hallmarks of his Tigerbeat years, Cex has taken to mainly live instruments and straight-ahead hip-hop beats with a slight not to the Anticon camp. Maryland Mansions is the album that Rjyan Kidwell, not Cex, has always wanted to make and the album most Cex fans will not be expecting -- which is a good thing, as Cex has always tried to defy expectations with every release. Dark without being hokey or excessively melodramatic, this is a wonderfully disturbing album, brutally honest to the core.
Maryland Mansions Review
by Rob Theakston