On “Detonate” the Manimals light a slow-burning fuse with glam-damaged power ballad

I’m happiest in the blast/in the radioactive aftermath
Everyone suspended/everything upended
I got chaos on my mind/I could leave this all behind
Take some time to heal/analyze how we feel
–The Manimals “Detonate”


Author: Jason Lee
Photo: Anna Willenbrock

If there’s one thing that one should not expect from a band called The Manimals it’s a sense of politesse but in the first couple minutes of the Brooklyn band’s new single “Detonate” one seems to get exactly that cuz it sounds something like the opening to a Disney-style power ballad with the protagonist presenting as mildly troubled at first but resolute nonetheless and ultimately triumphant…

…with the contemplative vocal tones of Haley Bowery undergirded by the sensitive strumming and delicate thrumming of her Manimal cohorts but if you’re paying attention you know it ain’t gonna stay that way for long and even in the opening the lyrics paint a contrasting picture cuz instead of being about a circle of life or havin’ a good time under the sea these lyrics are about blowing sh-t the f-ck up, figuratively of course, but also about how with any good detonation comes regeneration…

…making it perhaps closer to Frozen’s “Let it Go” more than any other Disney tune we know tho’ admittedly we’re far from experts except instead of Queen Elsa finally coming out with regards to her wintery superpowers in this instance it’s flame-haired front-Manimal Haley B. owning the impulse to blow everything up in a burning ring of fire (did we mention this band loves the color red?) and start afresh again or to paraphrase a post from their socials posted not long ago…

photo by Kevin Vonesper

“Detonate” is about “the joy of quitting” something or perhaps someone in scorched-earth-there’s-no-going-back fashion where you “just blow everything up” and bask however briefly in that “sweet moment in between where you get to figure your shit out”

…and if there’s a band out there that’s all about inhabiting these sorts of liminal “in between” spaces it’s gotta be the Manimals cuz duh clearly based on their name alone they’re half semi-civilized human beings and half already-feral animals gone wild (or maybe more like 30-70% or even 10-90%) not to mention how the Manimals vociferously deny being a cult while doing a pretty good job impersonating one especially live where audiences are offered communion-like jello shots before Haley drops to the floor like a snake-wielding Pentecostal preacher writhing in agonized ecstasy covered in the blood of an unspecified deity…

…and if you peep the music video for “Detonate” (see top of page!) you’ll see what we mean with The Manimals’ queen crawling across an empty expanse of beach on all fours like a prowling wildebeest but with the grace of a gazelle in a white halter dress who somehow hopped a train to the Jersey Shore before rushing heedlessly into the sea like a Kate Chopin protagonist finally freed the from the shackles of mundane everyday life with the song’s turning point coming with the pulsating, harmony-laden buildup that explodes into pure wordless bliss at about 3:39 as night falls and fireworks fill the air filling Haley’s face with rapturous multi-colored light…

photo by Arden Duffield

…and from this point forward ya dun, son cuz the Manimals have grabbed you by the scruff of the neck with their highly combustible, delirium-inducing sonic attack which of course is all the more satisfying given how the ecstatic detonation in question doesn’t arrive until they’ve let your wick burn steadily and enticingly for several minutes straight but not-so-straight and again the ideal seems to be to crawl inside that “sweet moment in between” for as long as possible…

..with music to match straddling the line between Disney ballad uplift and glam-damaged rock’n’roll provocation something like if Tina Turner and Bonnie Tyler did battle with Jim Steinman and Meatloaf in a Thunderdome-style proscenium so keep those kneepads handy when listening to “Detonate” cuz no doubt before long you’ll be dropping to the floor with much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments (the fun part!) in search of that elusive ruby in a mountain of rocks before it’s too late…

released September 1, 2023
Lyrics & Music by Haley Bowery
Arranged by The Manimals
Produced & recorded by Ben Schrier at NES Sound in Peekskill, NY
Drums recorded by Matt Graff at The Koop

Haley Bowery- lead vocals
Michael Jayne- lead guitar, vocals
Jack Breslin- bass
Chris Sayre- guitar, vocals
Trevor Walker- drums
Zoe Briskey- synth
(c) (p) Sick & Pretty Music / BMI 2023

photo by Samanta Mena

Official band bio: The Manimals are not a cult–they’re just a regular New York City band teaching their acolytes how to find transcendence at the rock & roll gig, of course. They have been making uniquely genre-fluid music since 2011, but its hallmarks include big pop hooks, messy punk attitude, and glam rock spectacle. Inspired in equal parts by David Bowie and Kesha, horror movies and drag queens, myths and psychedelia, they live somewhere between deeplv stupid and absolutelv genuine. Led by the irrepressibly entertaining Haley Bowery (who is often covered in blood), The Manimals are a party and a queer fever dream wrapped in a messiah complex (but in a fun way!)

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