With Pregnant Mannequin, The Mistys return after a gap of four years. The prolonged spell of dead air has been broken with ten dark, pop-styled missiles from Andrew Hargreaves (The Boats / Tape Loop Orchestra) and Beth Roberts, who take cues from post-punk, ambient, dream-pop, art-pop, and new wave.
Pregnant Mannequin’s dream-aesthetic is hazy, humid, and sugar-coated. Intentionally saccharine, their mutant pop has incubated for four long years, leaving behind a record of catchy, radioactive synths and candy-crushed lyrics. Synced up to old tape machines, the sweet-but-fading lyrics cut in and out, slipping into the closed tones of the tape as the reels get eaten up. Their music has been ripped and re-worked like a collage with its array of patches and bandaged tones.
Opener ‘Bite Marks’ is a dose of lost pop, its wraith-like synths sitting along with Beth’s vocals in a dense electronic fog, wrapped up as if in lotus position and encircled by a slow, grimy beat. Other sounds, like those on ‘Velvet Water’, emerge from a toxic swamp, rising up from its zombiefied tape deck. Drum machines dig delightfully into the skull, and the retro, dated textures are dragged back into the daylight. Beth’s vocal acts as a sweetener, but so do the feverish synths, shining with a sickly luminescence and caught within the programmed drum sequences.
Like a mashed-up pop song in a secret underground nightclub’s setlist, Pregnant Mannequin’s songs glimmer in the dark, its disco ball spinning a prism of sharp colours at odd angles and unnatural degrees. Even without the injection of Beth’s vocals, the tracks would stand (or stagger) on their own, but with them Pregnant Mannequin’s strangely uplifting, undead sounds level up.