ManDancing Dazzles with Sophomore Album

The Good Sweat

By Nick Manduley

December 10, 2020

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Photo Credit: Mark Jaworski

North Jersey indie-emo-folkers ManDancing released their sophomore LP ​The Good Sweat​ on November 20th via Take This To Heart Records. ​The Good Sweat​ is the follow up to their 2018 EP ​Hands On 3​.

Kenlock” kicks off the record with heavenly synth textures that swell into snare-driven beat with steady acoustic guitars. Guitarist and vocalist Stephen G. Kelly delivers the first of many amazing vocal performances as the track fills out with a wall of sound that then fades to silence.

Hey Friends” is a brief but catchy track that pairs a syncopated drum groove with melodic vocal hooks and atmospheric guitars. The track blends seamlessly into the cheeky tune “Pancakes (Who Loves Who the Most?),” which deals with romantic relationships under the pretext of breakfast foods.

The Good Sweat

Wall Spot” offers an emotional heaviness that very much leans into the post-rock vibes present on ​The Good Sweat​. The delayed guitars and soaring harmonies certainly make this track an album favorite. “Coffer” offers up similar vibes, though the track builds around the fervent sixteenth-note clapping of a hi-hat that evolves into a monolith of sound, eventually giving way to a pulsing rock beat and intense vocals.

GloveSweat” is a mid-tempo ballad-like tune that highlights ManDancing’s ability to effectively portray emotion and tone with their production as well as their songwriting. The industrial drum sounds, reverberating vocals, and the haunting acoustic guitar strumming put out an aura that’s not just somber, but instills a very subtle sense of dread (in a good way, of course. I’m definitely not dreading having to review this record. It rules, please listen to it).

RJW” is a juggernaut of galloping rhythm, soaring delayed guitars, and melancholy lyricism. Its placement as the seventh track on the record is appropriate; the tumbling percussion portrays the track sonically as being perpetually in-motion. It effectively draws the listener’s focus while maintaining the record’s flow.

The album follows with “Poplar Mobus,” a short-lived but rambunctiously energetic interlude track that gives way to the mid-tempo acoustic-driven “Perch.” ​The Good Sweat​ ends with a euphoric, eponymous folk track, followed by the heartfelt slow-jam “Johnny Freshman.”

The Good Sweat i​s like a pretty painting top-to-bottom; drummer Thomas DeVinko’s innovative shuffles and grooves coupled with dazzling acoustic and ambient guitar tones creates a wondrous soundscape that is as infectious as it is sonically diverse. Bassist Adrian Kabigting matches the controlled-yet-chaotic drumming with performances that hold form but know how to have fun. Stephen Kelly’s rattling acoustic guitar contrasts wonderfully with his singing voice that can be either cool and collected, or soaring with expression. Guitarists Ben Petty and James Bauman round out the band’s sound with their electrified tones that contribute to the sonic potluck that is ​The Good Sweat​.

The textures and tones of ​The Good Sweat​ is emblematic of the band’s prowess for production and songwriting. It’s clear that ManDancing has given us the magnum opus we all needed to hear in 2020. ​The Good Sweat​ is currently available on all major streaming services.

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Nick Manduley is an aspiring music journalist and musician from Bradley Beach, NJ. He is currently an intern at Relix Magazine where he helps produce and curate online content. Since 2016, he has provided guitars and vocals for the local punk band Drive, Kid. Drive, Kid released an EP and a full-length album in 2018, and are currently recording their sophomore LP.

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