Album Reivew: Track by Track Born Villain Review
By TL Kincaid

This is my review of Marilyn Mansonís new album, ďBorn Villain.Ē I am writing as I listen. These are only my initial impressions. All of these opinions are subject to change as my relationship to these songs evolves through repeated listens.†

1. Hey Cruel World
Starting an album with this song is like starting a relationship with an incredible blowjob. Itís awesome, but sets the standard high. You donít lead in with this unless you are supremely confident in what follows. And thatís exactly what†Born Villain†is: an album that brims with confidence. Itís the exact opposite of Mansonís luke-warmly received (though in my opinion vastly underrated)†The High End Of Low.†For those who loved Manson best from 1996-2003 this is a huge return to form.†The song is hard without being tuneless.†10/10†

2. No Reflection
The first single, almost certainly chosen for the infectious catchiness of itís chorus. The song, to me, seems a bit ideologically muddled, but musically it knows where itís going. It makes you want to at least tap a foot and at most stomp a personís head. There is a pop sensibility here that was sorely lacking in Mansonís last two efforts. The album version, which is a bit longer than the radio edit, doesnít work quite as well.†7/10

† 3. Pistol Whipped
† This is a song about physically abusing a girl. Catchy chorus. Nice throbbing beat that makes you want to ram someone or get rammed (or both at once). Iím pretty sure it made my fiancee horny. Itís low-key compared to the previous tracks, but thatís a good thing at this point in the album. We needed a break from the initial barrage.†7/10 †

4. Overneath The Path Of Misery†
It opens with a Shakespeare quote that will no doubt be misattributed to Manson himself for years to come, then it starts raping you. Yes. This song sounds like a rape. The lyrics are very prominent here, and they deserve to be. Theyíre writhe with wordplay, allusions to MacBeth and greek mythology. This song is a barrage of †brilliance that blows itís load in orifices you didnít know you had until youíre dying of blood loss. Giving a song 11 out of 10 is ridiculous, but this song will kill me and eat my heart if I donít do it.†11/10.

†† 5. Slo-Mo-Tion
† Fuck. Iím going to sound like such a sycophant here, but how is this so damn good? There is just a magical quality to this song, like you got let backstage at a Penn & Teller show only to discover that none of the tricks were tricks and that the magicians are really sorcerers who sawed the girl in half for real and they could put her back together if they wanted but choose not to.†9/10

6. The Gardener†
A largely spoken word song in the vein of†WOW†but both musically and lyrically superior. The song seems to be about how, in relationships, we create false images of people and then hold them to the standard of our illusions about them. The lyrics,†ďIím not man enough to be human / but Iím trying to fit in / and Iím learning to fake itĒ†are very relatable to me. And the line:†ďYour book isnít burned / it was never writtenĒ†has yet to fail to give me goosebumps, even on this, my 4th or 5th listen.†9/10†

7. The Flowers Of Evil
† This song starts weaker than the others, but by the time it hits itís pitch-perfect chorus, it had me hooked. I do feel like the lyrics sometimes try too hard to be spooky. This song is definitely the closest any track on this album comes to sounding like†Eat Me, Drink Me†or†The High End Of Low†but even this has a better pop-sensibility that anything off of those two albums. There is a meticulous care for song structure on every track of this album, and this is no exception. I think this song will grown on me considerably over time, but for now:†7/10

8. Children Of Cain†
There is a line in this song that is repeated several times:†ďDonít assume that Iím always with you / Itís just where my mortal body happens to be.Ē†This seems incredibly profound in the context of the song, and Iíve yet to really understand why. I donít believe that any part of humans are anything but mortal, so it should fall flat for me. But it doesnít. It moves me tremendously. Almost to tears once. There is an isolation to this song. It makes you feel alone. Some people will probably reject this song, because it is a feel bad song on a largely feel-good (for Manson) album. However, this song sustains me. Itís like something my heart would sing to coax me to sleep after a rough day.†9/10

9. Disengaged†
This song doesnít fuck around. Itís an odd song. Itís depressive, but swaggering, defeated but still swinging punches. Itís hard to even describe in words how it makes me feel. It feels like being bi-polar. It doesnít know where it is, but it knows what itís there to do: fuck your shit up. Like so many songs on the album, it starts somewhere vulnerable and leaves off somewhere angry.†8/10†

10. Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms†
My ears are hurting at this point. This album can get quite fucking loud. The song is melodic and hard, but I donít know if it has any tricks to impress us after the preceding 9 songs. Itís a good song, but everything in itís†repertoire†seems to have been used earlier. Nothing about it surprises me. Nothing about it is unpredictable enough to stand out. That said, itís a solid song with an aggressive and catchy hook. It would probably stand better on itís own than as part of this album. If most bands did this song, it would be the best song they ever did, but for this album it falls short.†6/10†

1. Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day
† When I heard the title, I assumed this would be a very soft and melodic sort of Manson songóthe sort of song that filled†Eat Me, Drink Me†but I was wrong. This song should be mentioned in the same breath as†Irresponsible†Hate Anthem†and†1996†in terms of hardness and unbridled aggression. This is the kind of song people who donít listen to Manson probably imagine all Manson songs sound: endlessly angry and threatening. This is music to shoot up your school to. Also, the ending is oddly hilarious.†10/10

12.†Born Villain †
I donít know what to say about this song. Itís sad, but virbrant. Itís melodic, itís lyrical, itís affecting. Thereís a strange almost dancability to it. I want to give it the best rating possible, because itís too good not to, but I feel like Iím just ill-equipped to explain why it deserves such high praise. Itís ineffable. So, even though I want to give it a 10, Iíll settle for a 9 since I canít properly defend a 10 at this point.†9/10

13. Breaking The Same Old Ground
Itís like a lullaby that the devil would sing to hell to help the damned fall asleep. There is romance here, and self-pity. In some ways, this song is ashamed. Itís the polar opposite of how the album began. The confidence is gone, replaced with pensiveness, emotional fragility and desire. This song is†reminiscent†of the best tracks of Mechanical Animals. Towards the end, the song shifts in attitude, and seems to rise again, somehow in defiance of itself and defiance of the world.†10/10††

BONUS TRACK: Youíre So Vain†
This is an oddly faithful rendition of Carly Simonís 70ís (I think) hit. Iím not familiar with the original, beyond listening to it once for the sake of comparison. This song should not be looked at as part of Born Villain, but as an interesting bonus track. Itís fun and feel-good. Itís a good song to dance or fuck to (Not that I dance. Ever.). Johnny Depp plays guitar on the track, but who gives a shit? Heís famous for playing a gay pirate, not for his guitar skills. Donít get me wrong, he does a good job and itís a good song, but I have no idea why the fact that Johnny Depp is playing guitar is supposed to mean anything to me.†8/10

OVERALL IMPRESSION. There is something oddly Pink Floyd about this album. I never thought Iíd say that about a Manson album. Every song seems very deliberate, very polished, very producedóand thatís when Manson is at his best. Heís not the guy that does it in one take and says, ďGood enough.Ē Heís the guy who says, ďThatís good. Letís do it again.Ē† This album is very obviously the result of a lot of work on the parts of a lot of people. Every note, every sound, every line and deliveryósounds like it was hotly debated and exhaustively considered. And that dilligence has paid off with the most impassioned and fresh sounding Album that Manson has released since his heyday.†