Life, I am frequently reminded, is all about balance. Gotta admit I haven’t exactly been able to master that one yet. Maybe I ask the men of The Manvils for pointers; they seem to be doing a pretty fair job of it these days. On their third full-length Reaction Arrow, the veteran indie-rock power trio (whose members hail from Vancouver but now call Toronto home) balance introspective tales of life, love and loss against extroverted, thundering tracks fashioned from driving grooves, swirling and/or snarling squalls of expertly manipulated and treated guitars, and the wide-eyed yowl of frontman Mikey Manville. Clearly their 15 years in the trenches have served them well. Or maybe they’ve just always been noisier, grittier, gnarlier and slightly more unhinged than their Can-Rock peers. Or perhaps they just needed to get something off their chest this time around. Either way, Reaction Arrow hits the mark.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Reaction Arrow is the sixth release and third full-length album from The Manvils, one of Vancouver’s original indie-rock bands (circa 2005) and is their most personal, indignant, and hard-hitting release to date. The band’s staying power is a testament to the incredible musical bond between power drummer Jay Koenderman and frontman Mikey Manville. Originally signed to Vancouver’s Sandbag Records, the band was a staple of Vancouver’s vibrant live music scene, sharing the stage with the likes of Stereophonics, Metric, Sonic Youth, Ben Harper, The Bellrays, Jarvis Cocker, and many others. The album was written and dedicated to the loss of several family members in unimaginably quick succession after the band relocated to Toronto in 2011. The emotive energy throughout Reaction Arrow is bonded, quite literally, with the initials of beloved family members, as well as Sandbag Records founder, the late Richard Eusebio, memorialized in an engraving on the vinyl’s edge. Much of the album was produced by John Akred and recorded over a span of three years in Redwood City, Calif., at John’s secluded and historic Melody Hunting Lodge (est. 1879). Additional songs were produced and recorded in Toronto by Lorne Hounsell and Stephan Di Mambro. Reaction Arrow‘s deeply personal storyline is contrasted by fuzzed-out, sonic thunder that echoes the unprecedented era we’ve entered globally. An album that, at its core, speaks to the universal nature of grieving–from the agony of loss to the heroism of survival. In between are revelations on life’s highs and lows, all guided by a conviction that does not waver.”