2002’s documentary Bowling for Columbine might be the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Marilyn Manson. If faced by the killers, “I wouldn’t have talked, just listened” he says. He intuitively gets the emotionally unstable and recognises the world needed to have reached out to them.
But since Michael Moore’s documentary, it has been hard to believe him as the self-styled “God of Fuck”, a sinner man with a taste for bad girls and an aura of danger and disease that saw him inspire moral panic among the guardians of America’s youth. It’s an act and one that has become increasingly one-dimensional as the years have passed.
The main problem is that while The Pale Emperor is probably his best record in a decade and his recent interviews have depicted an artist coming to terms with entering middle-age, the nature of fantasy and the prospect of fatherhood, his music still feels as if it is conjured with fourteen year old bedroom-dwellers in mind. Lead-off track ‘Killing Strangers’ is a good case in point. “We got guns, you better run” Manson bawls, “We’re killing strangers, so we don’t kill the ones that we love” over a torpid industrial-glam beat. Twenty years into his career as America’s boogeyman, the Emperor’s new clothes are starting to look increasingly washed out.
[Max Sefton – @MaxSefton]