All people are liars. Everyone. This may sound harsh, but its irrefutable. It’s one of many unpleasant truisms of life that we all know, but never choose to discuss. The most honest person you know has to lie from time to time – situations call for it. And while there are varying degrees to the significance and frequency in which a person lies, we all do it. An individual’s behavior is naturally connected to the context of a particular setting. Their actions in front of someone they meet at a bar differ from their behavior when introduced to a new co-worker. The topics of conversation you may choose, the jokes you may make range across a broad spectrum, depending on the setting. Deep down, though, you arent yourself. Maybe the inner fabric remains, but in reality there’s a level of misrepresentation conveyed in order to meet an end game.
Marilyn Manson, like many artists, has made a career out of lying. And thats fine. Manson, like everyone else, is trying to reach his end game, something that has alluded him since the early aughts: relevancy. Its difficult to say you want to make a comeback, Manson told Loudwire.com. Because thats admitting that you werent what you were supposed to be, not what you used to be, but what youre supposed to be. On Born Villain, his bands eighth studio album, Manson re-discovers his roots, exploring the vintage industrial rock genre that made him matter in the first place. Still, the question remains: Is Manson what fans want him to be, or who he really is?
Born Villain offers much of what is already found in Mansons catalog, namely hushed intros leading into surprisingly profound lyrics that are dispassionately delivered in the verses, and maniacally belted out in the choruses. But deviation occurs in the newfound versatility in style displayed throughout the record. Mansons sound has consistently been characterized as industrial rock, but never confined to it, and to his credit, he has always experimented outside the elements with each new release. Born Villain is an aggregation of those tests as opposed to relying solely on one genre, such as glam-rock, which had betrayed him in previous albums. The new kink in the latest release is the addition of a post-punk kick, as on Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day. This album will retain fans that never left Mansons side and lure others back who abandoned him earlier this decade. In addition to the musical reach, Manson provides some variety in his lyrics, shelling out dark insights on romantic trauma on “Pistol Whipped”.
Depressingly, Manson has said that he tried writing from his personal life in the two records prior to Born Villain, both of which commercially flopped. In other words, he failed at being honest. I was in a place where I could not figure out how to deal with being me, he said later in the interview with Loudwire.com. Me the personnot me as Marilyn Manson. Sometimes you dont know how the [expletive] to be yourself, because youre too confused by the circumstances youre in. Everyone goes through that I need to be an outlaw, I need to be a villain, I need to be the person that you dont want to [expletive] with so people dont [expletive] with what I do.
Manson is correct. Coming to terms with who you are is a bridge everyone passes. But artistically speaking, Manson is reverting to his roots as a means for survival, not progress. The villain is the person who has the chance to change something, Manson continued. They might break the rules, but thats the thing, sometimes if you dont [expletive] break the rules, youre not going to save anything, youre not going to change anything. So, Manson is a poseur, a villain parading around an opaque persona bent on inciting shock from the everyman (and, more importantly, the everymans state representative) as proof to his minions that he (and I suppose by proxy, they) matter. That said, trading relevancy for regression seems callow and short-sighted.
In The Gardener, Manson sings, Im not man enough to be human/But Im trying to fit in/And Im learning to fake it. Of course, he’s lying. He is not devoid of human qualitieshe has insecurities and emotional baggagebut not man enough to sing about them in lieu of risking success, and he isnt learning to fake it. He mastered that craft long ago. Subject matter such as the aforementioned romanticism is refreshing, and maybe that will be pushed to the foreground in future records, but it only appears in spurts on Born Villain.
“I now feel like I’m in control of my life, Manson said in an interview with NME. Before I was unhappy and when someone is unhappy, it’s because they’re not in control of their life. I’m not a masochist. I’m simply into trying to enjoy what I do, because otherwise there’s no point.”
Manson is okay, just don’t ask him to sing about it.
Essential Tracks: Hey, Cruel World… and The Gardener