The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday December 4th

Manning, Band to Perform at Go!

3/5 stars

Three of Five Stars

The debut album from Barbara Manning and the Go-Luckys!, You Should Know By Now, is a resounding "okay."

It isn't obtrusively bad, annoying or hard to listen to. It just isn't complex or innovative or even catchy enough to actively capture the ear's attention.

A few songs are the type that can get stuck in your head and you don't mind. "Goof on the Roof," which is about a little kid who escapes to the roof to get away from it all, qualifies for this. It's cute, and corresponding neatly to the lyrics about childhood: "I need a place/ Where I won't see another face/ Up on the roof/ I can run and play/ I can leave this world/ And come back today."

For added fun, the first several seconds remind you of the old cartoon "Casper the Ghost," which is just okay.

Other songs are somewhat annoying, however. Especially the ones in which Manning seems to get stuck on a certain passage, singing a select group of words over and over and over.

This happens in, among others, "Time to B." She repeats seemingly endless lines of "It's time to be in love."

The phrase is annoying enough sung once, let alone several times over. And Manning just keeps repeating the title "Never Made Love" for most of the song's first verse.

And sometimes, just to deviate from the formula, Manning tweaks a few words in "Buds Won't Bud." "When the one you love/ Won't love you" becomes "When the one you love/ Won't love back" for a bit, and takes a final lap with "When the one you love/ Won't love you" just for good measure.

Oh, the fearful symmetry.

Not spectacular, nor horrific, in its studio version, the simplicity and occasional bursts of energy in You Should Know By Now" could render the songs on the album better-sounding live. And Manning and company have a good touring pedigree -- listing Yo La Tengo, Pavement, Calexico and the Replacements among the bands with whom Manning shared the stage -- so the promise of the album should pay off on stage.

To show if this is true, the Go-Luckys! will play at Go! Studios on Aug. 1.

The album cover itself proclaims the music wherein to combine "punk rock energy" with Manning's "delicate, ethereal singing and songwriting."

This is partially true.

Certain tracks -- such as "Buds Won't Bud," and even to a certain extent "Don't Neglect Yourself" and "You Knock Me Out," do seem punkish in their melody and pace.

And other tracks, like "I Insist" and "Boston Song," could be described as almost ethereal -- but that's because of the overall music, not the vocals in particular.

It's not that her singing is bad; it's just much more simple, organic and even punkish than ethereal, not unlike the vocals of Donna A. of the Donnas or Elyse Rogers of Dance Hall Crashers.

Which is just okay.

Allyson Shaffer can be reached at akshaffe@email.unc.edu.

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