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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Hello Mannequin

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Jun
Hello Mannequin
Sounds like … pure synth-pop that recalls the likes of Yaz, Depeche Mode, New Order, and Joy DivisionAt a glance … like many most of Joy Electric's albums, the synthetic monotony will annoy many, while the truly alternative approach to pop will please someTrack ListingHello, MannequinDisloyalist Party (Mutiny/Misery)The Works of UnknownsThe Singing ArcSong for All TimeThe Birth of the Telegram, 1814Who Are Friends?Wolf in the BendFrom Mount ChorusThe Phonograph Plays, Part and ParcelNikola TeslaPost CalendarI Am a PioneerA Page of Life

Hello Mannequin is volume three in Joy Electric's Legacy series, which began in 2001 with The White Songbook and continued in 2002 with The Tick Tock Treasury. It's still unclear how these three albums relate, other than that they were all completely written, sung, and recorded by synth-pop mastermind Ronnie Martin, who concocted the sounds on synthesizers without the aid of drum machines. I'm sure Martin is tired of the comparison, but Joy Electric sounds like old video game effects used to make a cheap sci-fi soundtrack of pop music.

The songs remain melodic and poetic, with somewhat clearer subjects and an overall darker mood. The legacy theme is more prominent on this album—especially in tracks like "The Works of Unknowns," "The Singing Arc," and "Post Calendar"—with Martin repeatedly searching for purpose and remembrance of a life's work. He even uses "Nikola Tesla" as an example of an oft-forgotten scientist who made brilliant contributions to the study of electricity and radio transmission. Elsewhere, in "Disloyalist Party," he blasts critics who question his beliefs and motives—"Self-righteous views and quotes/Deny the one you claim to be your hope."

Like previous Joy Electric albums, the average listener will be unsure of what to glean from all of this since no clear conclusions are drawn. Is Martin trying to justify his unconventional artistic path these past 15 years? Songs like "Who Are Friends?" and "Song for All Time" suggest that he rightly understands love and relationships are the most important things in life, not fame and success. Still, Hello Mannequin ends up as another spiritually obtuse album that many will find frustrating and tedious. Fans will undoubtedly appreciate this as true alternative music, fusing new ideas to the classic synth-pop sound, but isn't that what Joy Electric has done on every album?