The Bible Belt’s most feared rock star and idol of underage wannabe-goths is back. And by back, I don’t mean “he figured it was time to throw some product on the market”. No, the Antichrist Superstar is back in full force, releasing an album that is both harder hitting and more intricate than everything since Mechanical Animals.
The High End Of Low contains scathing personal and social commentary which, in the tradition of Beautiful People, is sometimes blunt and sometimes ambiguous.
Its first single We’re From America firmly belongs to the former category, alluding to America’s chauvinism, its wars, and its religious right. Some may find such messages to be out of place in the Obama era, but Manson is bright enough to know that an evil empire doesn’t falter with the arrival of a nice emperor. A minute into the song, and all the little liberal punkvoters from California look like the boy scouts they are.
Song titles like Arma-goddamn-motherf****n-geddon might point otherwise, but Manson has in fact matured as an artist. While lyrics such as Pretty As A Swastika are unlikely to shock anyone in 2009, the strongest moments of the album are found where the increasingly voltile Manson simply sets out to say the truth.
The Bowiesque glam-rock elements are still firmly in place, but now they are an organic part of a whole that is all Manson’s own. Bauhaus, T. Rex or Sex Pistols for the 21st century this isn’t, but certainly one of the more enjoyable major releases of the year.