Melody Maker September 1998 REVIEW ALBUM OF THE WEEK SIX APPEAL MANSUN SIX (EMI) REPRESENTING as much of an advancement from "The Return Of The Grey Lantern" as the personal computer does from the abacus, "Six" is a monumental benchmark in the post-Britpop vacuum; a challenge to Mansun's demanding contemporaries that it should be impossible to make a dull record about social alienation. It's as though Mansun, volunteering to assist the revival of British pop by injecting themselves with the DNA of every genre going, have produced an expansive, voluminous meisterwork bristling with misanthropic outrage and lacerating self-disgust without sacrificing an ounce of musical innovation. Though it will soon become a cliche to say so, the most recent musical precendent is "The Holy Bible". Tracks such as "Negative", "Anti Everything" and "Serotonin" all share James Dean Bradfield's mastery for sculpting taut beauty from rock cacophony, while Richey's corresively honest lyrical style is echoed in Paul Draper's own - "Being a boy's like sucking on a lemon" ("Being A Girl")... "Pull the cancer from the Vatican's own state" ("Cancer"). And like the Manics' most disturbing record, it is initially as easy to swallow as a plateful of porcupines. After your first listen, you'll want to disinfect your brain, but "Six" plants seeds so deep into your conciousness that you fail to notice them until their pre-set programming is activated and you're instinctively enslaved by its Herculean magnitude. "Cancer" is a poignant fusion of funeral piano and sonic snowstorms. "Fall Out" tip-toes in with samples of Tchaikovsky's "Sugar Plum Fairy", enticing Draper to boogie like Bowie trapped inside a man-eating kazoo. And "Shotgun" sees fast-about funk whirlwind buoyantly into Clash-style punk. Inspired eclecticism has rarely been contorted into such bedazzling shapes. Naturally, this musical diversity is all part of Mansun's grand design - namely, to see how long their talent can keep up with their ambition, manifested through the unlikely choice of "Legacy" and "Being A Girl" as singles. Central to this strategy is that "Six" explores and satirises its own pomposity on "Witness To A Murder (Part Two)". However, the most revealing track here is "Special/Blown It (Delete As Appropriate)", an indictment of the futility of rock star excess, documented with such authentic cynicism it wouldn't sound out of place emanating from the frazzled recesses of Billy Idol's mind ("Just one more greatest hits tour for the devotees/The same old faces came"). Are Mansun simply indulging in anecdotal folly? Or do they genuinely fear the integrity-sapping intrusion of fame? That's the next stage, though. "Six" is so bitter, so colossal, so heroically ambitious, it will surely catapult Mansun further into the limelight they are already being blinded by. In the meantime, with their status as our premier alchemical visionaries confirmed, we'll busy ourselves with this complex tapestry, happily acknowledging that it's difficult to imagine a better album being made this side of the millenium. 4.5/5 Daniel Booth Melody Maker September 5 1998 ©1998 IPC Magazines Ltd.