The last time we heard from Kyle Mallouck AKA Manny On A Mission, he was at the finish line of a cover-album release with songs ranging from "Hot Line Bling" to the edges of alternatives with "Helena Beat." The Canadian singer-songwriter recently succumbed to his other indulgences and has released an album dedicated to his self-declared "favorites" from some of his previous albums. Some of these selections (upward twists on folk-rock music) made their way onto "Manny On A Mission," a tight, thirteen-song re-introduction to his catalog's most exciting and addictive features.
The reimagined composition journey begins with the brightest of uplifting effects: a springy, stately guitar riffing anthem called "Creeper." Even more than its catchy hooks or trashing downpour of crash cymbals and pedaling electric guitar breaks, you're left hanging onto his catchy chorus—an anthem hopping, one-of-a-kind opener. Just from a few moments, you might imagine it echoing from the most massive corners of a summer stadium show. And you would be right. When presented at first, most of the songs have a tugging, upward trajectory, a cementing force for Manny On A Mission's ecstatic sopranos.
In the stimulant spiral of "Exposed," Manny On A Mission muses on the contrast that's always survived his work, merging evocative upbeat energy with stark desperation in theme. "You've exposed the cracks in me," he sings, "And every step you take and every step you've taken, you've fallen through them." It's part of the record's driving grit—as is dissonance created through distorted vocal callbacks and heartfelt urgency in lyrics. "Our constitutions built on greed," he rules. As we move along, the acoustic guitar-based tracks are highlights on this album. "Hollow" and "Run" are focused on sulky acoustic lines that drift like falling rain, as Manny On A Mission, twists between his chorus' with a spiritual rigor. While the plentiful upbeat numbers are loaded with open-tuned electric guitars and steady drums, these bits of smooth passion—only Manny On A Mission's voice and a few other instruments—is where the record sparkles. "Many On a Mission" finds ways to communicate between these fast and slow counterparts, intertwining the internal lining and outer-surfaces, ending in a representation that feels full and honest to his discerning musical interpretations of the past.
Echoing on the more natural tone of the music found inside this album, Manny On A Mission's lyrics often concern self-reflection, letting people go and finding themselves. The collection's sweeping midsection features "Where are you going?" and is sung with harmony and doubles. At the same time, the music fills in the blanks with riffing guitars and steady uplifting rhythm, illustrating the push-and-pull of relationships and the dependence found within them. With an arrangement that sounds like a traditional folk-song, "Take Me Home" spins from self-reflection to understanding with one request. "Take me home," he sings, "Was I yours from the start, locked away in your heart...are you home with me?" It's a crucial but straightforward statement. Home is a feeling that starts in one distinct place, but he suggests to us, you can take it with you wherever you go.
Occasionally, the tunes have a real sting, as on the sinister heavy-hitter "Alex." which is not afraid to be bold. Typically, the songs wander steadily toward their target, as though following google maps on a really reliable LTE network (I know, rare!). On "Walls" and "Perfect," battered by bready flakes of punkish personality and airy electric guitar breaks, Manny On A Mission, sounds like he's aiming for a slightly softer blend between Taking Back Sunday and Ryan Adams. "All through the night" recalls the slower ballads of some of the lighter moments on Island Park Part 3, giving a hefty nod to its original swaying feel while adding a grounding percussion part, and a tasteful electric guitar for the reimagining of the song.
As we listen, what endures from preceding releases is the unadorned merit of Manny On A Mission's voice. It seems metaphysical and hazing on "Warning." However, this song isn't lacking in its transformation, pleasingly scampering along with newly added drums and a sizzlingly clear vocal sitting upfront, contrasting from the original work off of 2015's "Let me in."
The closing title track, "When I Grow Up," with its glassy beauty, shimmering acoustics, with delicate strings, speaks to his future progress.
The consistency of mood, melody, and texture designates the record a clean playthrough with a lack of wanting. While the notions of the recordings are primarily supported by the results of his own previous work, it leaves some imparting anecdote on some of this artist's overlooked tracks. On many of these songs, he tells a story, then separates and compartmentalizes into a series of hooks and motifs which carry throughout each composition, both in their weight and meaning. It can sound like melancholy sometimes, but it presents a totally different meaning as you listen further, as hope emerges, and a sense of conflict relief adorns our consciousness.
Manny On A Mission is an artist on the diving board of life, peaking above the clouds of uncertainty as he continually releases music that speaks to his soul, and to countless others who endeavor to swim in the catalog of this singer-songwriters folk-rock world. With this new release, there's no doubt that the singer from Mississauga has the potential to touch hearts from worlds away.
Welcome to BuzzMusic Manny On A Mission! We're absolutely captivated by your newest album. Your unique spin on some of the music you've previously composed induces such a reminiscent vibe! Can you tell us more about your inspirations behind this project? What sparked this interest in dusting off some of your previous favorites?
I think it was a lot of things really. Lots of bands and artists after they have released a lot of music do a greatest hits album but I thought it would be more fun to do new versions of my favorite songs I have written. I also think I have a lot of newer fans that might not have heard some of my older songs and this gives them a chance to do so and maybe they would be interested in going back and hearing the original version and comparing the two. After all the songs were done I decided to make it a self-titled album because it really felt like I was presenting the songs that best showcase what the band means to me.
Which songs do you feel you wanted to highlight most out of this thirteen song culmination?
Well, “Creeper” was a song that I always felt kinda flew under the radar when I originally released it but I think it’s such a catchy fun song and I’m really proud of it. So it was pretty easy for me to decide that it had to be the first track on the album. “Alex” is another one that I’m really proud of and wanted more people to hear. I remember the first time I ever played it live I knew from the reaction it got from the crowd that it was something special. After playing it the crowd gave the applause as they normally would but as it tapered off you could hear a lot of conversations going on and they were all talking about the song.
When you looked at a song and began reimagining it, what were the steps you found yourself taking? Was there a checklist you intended to follow, or did the reinventing happen naturally as you revisited your catalog of music?
To be honest I've always had a habit of hearing songs and automatically thinking of how it could sound differently. Whether it be swapping instruments, singing in a different key, adding sound effects ...etc. I do this with my own songs as well. I revisit them and can hear in my head how they could be done differently. A lot of the ideas I’ve had I have been thinking about for years so I didn’t really have to make any checklist. I would go into recording with a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do.
As you journey further into the music industry, what knowledge do you hope to impart on some of the other independent artists who may be following in your footsteps? Maybe there is there any advice you could give to someone working on their first album?
Take your time. Don’t rush anything. You don’t want to release something and then look back at it and realize you had so much more to give to a song. Also, be emotional when you write your songs. Put yourself in the mindset you are trying to communicate and give everything you have. People will feel that when they hear that song and it will make it that much better.
It was a pleasure having you featured here with us! Can you tell us what is next for you? Where do you see yourself concerning new releases?
I have been saying for years I’m going to stop with Manny on a Mission and start releasing music under my own name but it never seems to work out. I’m very spontaneous when it comes to my music. An idea will just come to me and then it’s game on so it’s hard for me to know exactly what’s next. I have been doing some live streaming concerts on Facebook so I’d like to do more of those. I also released a cover album a couple of years ago and wouldn’t mind doing a follow up to that. But who knows... my mind will probably change again and again. I just feel like I’ll know when it’s time to stop and I feel like I haven’t released that piece of work that really says the end. Thank you so much for having me!