Dusted Reviews

Manitoba - Start Breaking My Heart

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Manitoba

Album: Start Breaking My Heart

Label: Domino

Review date: Nov. 7, 2002

Bored of Canada

Derivative: A term that a good majority of music reviews hint at without mentioning overtly or explode so greatly they ignore the music at issue. The task at hand, Manitoba’s (a.k.a. Dan Snaith) Start Breaking My Heart, is a practice, albeit a decent one, in the derivative arts. Although its influences are strong and well synthesized, and the results are listenable, it falls short of being anything other than used bin fodder.

On this album, Manitoba’s obsession is a kind of house-lite beat. The album seemingly begins well with “Dundas, Ontario,” which employs a cute toy xylophone line over the aforementioned faux-house bop. The melody is precise and the song's technical elements are perfect, but one gets the creeping feeling that Manitoba would rather be dropping thundering bass lines than practicing the restraint he displays here. The feeling is mutual in “James’ Second Haircut,” which attempts a few different directions, including an intentionally skewed guitar line (which had promise until it was skewed), some steel drum blips and a very synthetic sounding Amen-ish break. As the album progresses, one wonders if Manitoba checked a “Making Contemporary Electronic Music” book out of the library before he programmed the album. It sounds like each song was molded with the intention to mimic, and the album achieves this result with numbing precision. “Start…” is like listening to a “who’s who” of electronic music, except for the fact that these songs are like the distilled cover versions of your favorite hits.

“Lemon Yoghourt”, the token (not-so) “experimental” track on the album, becomes tedious after a minute or so. Thankfully, it clocks in at under three minutes. The song was probably included so that Manitoba could name-check Steve Reich in interviews and get away with it. Bouts with the “non-traditional” continually crop up with little success—their treatments are too cursory to demonstrate a real synthesis of ideas.

Finally, if you’re going to have a song called “Tits and Ass: The Great Canadian Weekend” on your album: a) “Children Play Well Together” should not be the name of the composition that appears five songs prior; b) your name should be a lot harder than “Manitoba”; and c) the reviewer should not be able to (begrudgingly) deem it the best song on the album, which it is.

Manitoba does possess a decent melodic sensibility that's not completely overshadowed by his lack of subtlety. Both “Paul’s Birthday” and “Happy Ending” (guess where that one falls in the track listing) are catchy and nicely played. Also, if you're in the mood, he can ram a decent beat down your gullet.

Still, I would encourage anyone to take those $15 required to buy Start Breaking My Heart and use it towards Fourtet’s Pause instead. It’s on the same label, and Kieran Hebden is everything that Manitoba meekly hints at.

By Marc Gilman

Other Reviews of Manitoba

Up In Flames

Read More

View all articles by Marc Gilman

Find out more about Domino

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.