Attack Of The Grey Lantern 4 CD Set

Album Review: Mansun – Attack Of The Grey Lantern Reissue

In 1997, Mansun burst onto the scene with Attack of the Grey Lantern. Capturing the hearts of many who found the Britpop scene rather boring, Mansun provided an alternative.

Never afraid to be different, they followed up their successful debut with Six’. Six was like no other album around at the time (or since). It’s prog leanings, constantly shifting time signatures and songs which suddenly changed direction over and over again confused people expecting an album filled with Wide Open Space style pop songs. Six has gone on to become a classic and is certainly one of the best albums to come out of the nineties.

There are various rumours surrounding exactly what happened next but their third album, Little Kix, wasn’t the product of a happy band. Forced to go down a more mainstream route, this wasn’t the Mansun many wanted. Especially Paul Draper. The creative force behind their best work had been pushed to the sidelines and it showed. It’s not an awful album but it definitely isn’t up to the high standards set by earlier releases.

Then Silence

Mansun had been working on album number four but relationships within the band had hit an all-time low. They quietly disbanded and it seemed like that was the last we would hear from them.

Fortunately, an online petition showed there was a desire to hear more and Kleptomania was released in 2004. Bringing together the unfinished album, along with rarities and demo recording, Kleptomania showed what could have been if Mansun had been able to repair themselves enough to finish the album properly.

Then Silence, Again.

After Kleptomania was released, it looked like that really was the last we’d hear from Mansun. Again.

Fortunately for fans, that all changed when Paul Draper decided the time had come to make a comeback. This time as a solo artist. Fan power had once again shown him there was a huge demand from loyal fans to hear new music and he duly obliged. Various EPs, a solo album (the amazing Spooky Action) and a live album later, life as a Mansun fan became even better with the news of Kscope acquiring the rights to the Mansun back catalogue. Kscope had shown with Paul Draper’s releases they were happy to give fans what they wanted with Spooky Action being released on various formats including the rather gorgeous limited edition 2cd/dvd set.

Attack Of The Grey Lantern

Attack Of The Grey Lantern 21st Anniversary Edition

Marking the 21st Anniversary of it’s original release, Kscope have released a remastered version of Attack of the Grey Lantern. As with Spooky Action, the standard cd release is joined by a number of special edition formats including purple vinyl and a deluxe media book edition.

But is Attack of the Grey Lantern worthy of all this attention?

Listen to albums from Mansun’s contemporaries and they sound rather dated. They were released at a time when everything sounded very similar. Luckily for Mansun lovers, Paul Draper and company chose not to fit in at the time and that’s what makes this re-release sound as fresh now as the day it first hit the shelves.

The lush strings opening the album sound as beautiful now as they did back in the nineties. The Chad Who Loved Me is the perfect opener. Somehow managing to sound comforting whilst still having an uneasy edge to it. It hasn’t aged a day.

And so it continues for the rest of the album.

Fan favourite, Wide Open Space is still the perfect pop song. The hit single was the first many heard of Mansun. Showcasing Paul Draper’s exquisite voice and knack for writing the perfect chorus and melody, it sounds just as special 21 years later.

The highlight for me is still Disgusting. It’s strange and uncomfortable intro opens up into a beautiful acoustic based song which captivated me then and still continues to do so all these years later. Is it Paul Draper’s finest work? For me, the answer is probably yes.

Dark Mavis comes a very close second. Throughout the track, Paul puts in the perfect vocal performance. Emotion dripping from every word until we reach Na-na-na singalong ending followed once again by those lush strings we hear at the start of the album. Epic doesn’t cover it.

It’s a similar story for every song on the album. Attack of the Grey Lantern didn’t fit in when it was released. It still doesn’t today and that’s it’s secret. It’s a timeless album that hasn’t aged in the way so many do. Comforting, menacing, epic, vulnerable, pop, anti-pop. It has it all. Attack of the Grey Lantern is a classic. If you missed it the first time around, now’s you’re chance to discover this gem.

Rating – 10/10

Mansun - Attack Of The Grey Lantern Reissue