Is there a revival of the NYC punk scene? Not so much. That doesn’t mean bands aren’t trying. One such band is Man In Gray, who boasts an assortment of different influences that culminates in a sound that could best be described as Sleater-Kinney fronted by Karen O. Playing the lead is singer Tina DaCosta who meanders a beautiful path of melody and mayhem as her whisper and howl vocals rightfully command the majority of the attention.
Behind all the racket of dueling guitars (one pretty, one raunchy), jackhammer drumming, and DaCosta’s screaming are well crafted pop songs that are both smart and anthemic. It’s just that the speed and passion of Man In Gray’s playing style has rendered those songs as sweaty, punk-infused dance chants that endure melodic breakdowns and unadulterated rocker chick bravado. I Can’t Sleep Unless I Hear You Breathing evokes memories of Pretty Girls Make Graves’ early, not so electro record, Good Health. The difference seems to stem from Man In Gray’s slightly more unfiltered approach. Where Pretty Girls had a fixation with ice cream, Man In Gray prefers beer. The band is unrelenting in their ferocity and to me that’s as good a calling card as any.
So as you move your feet to the dance heavy mixture of songs of men, women, growing discontent, politics, and commuting you can envision just where the Brooklyn based band is coming from. The metropolitan griminess permeates the sound with Man In Gray as the band you’d see at a damp, dank, clove-smoke infested back alley bar. Songs like “If You Ride It To The End, You’ll Get What You Come For” and “Sleeping” best represent the bands antsy brand of noise rock.
Despite the intensity and sincerity of the band I Can’t Sleep Unless I Hear You Breathing fails to step beyond the confines of safety. While there are plenty of fantastic contrasts of melody and vicious emotion it is hard to come away any one unquestionably can’t miss song. That isn’t to say that upon revisiting the album such a song couldn’t be found. As the band’s fan base increases so will the dynamic of each of the songs presented on Man In Gray’s debut full-length effort. At the very least the band controls its destiny with wild child DaCosta as the “token chick singer” who has the whole “cute enough to love, too rebellious to bring home” thing going.