Deep Green sees Manners contemplate normalcy in the face of an encroaching apocalypse.
Even before the world plunged into a pandemic, the last few years have felt like the end times. Environmental degradation continues unabated. Elected officials are showing blatant contempt for the lives of the citizens they are supposed to represent. And worst of all, many people seem to be shrugging their shoulders at it all. This slow walk into oblivion is partially what inspired Elliot Kerr’s latest batch of songs as Manners. Deep Green contemplates trying to do a very commonplace thing — starting a family — while the world is going to shit.
Kerr’s version of the apocalypse is not aggressive and violent, per se. As usual, Kerr is supported by an incredibly talented band including Ian Jarvis on guitar, Matt LeGroulx on bass, and Daniel Gelinas on drums. The psychedelic haze of Jarvis’ guitars make Kerr’s song feel serene, while LeGroulx’s bass adds some delicious funk. Kerr’s reverb-laden vocals can sometimes obscure his words, but the few glimpses into his thoughts turn peaceful-sounding compositions into something a little more unnerving. The title track, for instance, turns out to be a song about nature taking back our world after we’ve left it behind. It’s simultaneously a beautiful and unsettling image.
“Follow” and “Sedentary Life” most explicitly address starting a family in the end times, with lyrics about making difficult choices and hoping not to lose an unnamed other, while other songs admire the destruction from afar. the most warm and stirring song is the frenetic “The lonelies,” another worthy addition to the “happy apocalypse songs” subgenre. In this track, Kerr is content to dance with somebody he loves and enjoy things while they last. Layers and layers of sound build up near the song’s close, suggesting the end is arriving sooner than Kerr had hoped. “Live Extinction” is a slower-paced song where Kerr implores you, “watch the panic,” perhaps acknowledging that there’s nothing stopping the end of days.
The composition of Deep Green shows Manners have evolved much since their debut EP; the title track feels like it has three songs’ worth of melodies in it, and “A speck, a Mist” suddenly explodes into a wild storm of unexpected keyboard effects. Even when the lyrics lean toward the abstract, there are enough unpredictable psychedelic elements to make Deep Green an EP to groove to. Things aren’t going to be normal for a long time, and Kerr’s latest work shows “normalcy” isn’t really something we can return to.