Under Review

Thee Manipulators

Simian Again (Neptoon Records)

by Mark Paulhus


Hot on the heels of two reunion shows —one opening for ‘60s garage rock icons The Sonics —esteemed Vancouver group Thee Manipulators have released their final seven-inch. Recorded just before the band called it quits a few years ago, the three songs that make up Simian Again capture the true essence of Thee Manipulators.

While each of the three possesses its own character, all share that familiar Manipulators feel. “It’s Excruciating!!” is a rambunctious garage rock blaster; propelled by a swirling keyboard riff and rapid fire drums, “It’s Excruciating!!” culminates in a crescendo of wailing guitars. High pitched back-up vocals serve to compliment lead singer Mike Roche’s genuine sounding rock ‘n’ roll holler. “Cry Real Tears” is more of an R&B driven ass-shaker, with a bouncing beat, jangling guitar, and rattling tambourine.

It is, however, the title track that really stands out on this all too short EP. “Simian Again” starts with a brilliant, bluesy guitar hook and slowly builds. The track gradually introduces a thumping beat, a deep bass line, rhythmic keys, and commanding vocals. Each part contributes a layer to construct the whole. Add in some hand clapping and some good ol’ Manipulators fun as they call out in unison “Walk like an ape / Talk like an ape” and you have a serious rock ‘n’ roll song from a rock ‘n’ roll band that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

It’s a shame that Simian Again is Thee Manipulators final recording. While they do go out with a bang, after listening to these three songs (over and over) one can’t help but wonder what could have been if these sessions had produced an entire album. I guess we just have to hope that Thee Manipulators get the rock ‘n’ roll urge every once in a while and treat us to one of their blazing stage sets!