Album Premiere: Avery Mandeville, “Happy Birthday, Avery Jane”
Every now and then, you will come across music that makes you pause, close your eyes, and zone. If you’re lucky, you may find that musician’s words to be relatable, like a series of moments plucked from your life and put to song. If you are really fortunate, you just might stumble upon your new favorite band.
When I found Avery Mandeville, I experienced all of these stages in succession. Her fierce voice immediately captured my attention. The first song of hers I heard, “No More Dick Pix” off of her EP Salty, was all too relatable for reasons that need no explanation. After seeing Avery Mandeville and her band The Man Devils live several times over the past year, her music has become my go-to when I want to feel empowered.
Avery Mandeville’s debut album Happy Birthday, Avery Jane, which dropped Friday, July 13, lived up to every one of my expectations and then some. Her songs are the closest thing you can get to a Polaroid snapshot without the visual, like a scrapbook of music with a few torn pages.
On the catchy, opening jam “Get Real!”, Avery sings “I’m just trying to get paid,” a pretty honest sentiment for most folks. The groovy, pop sound is followed by a slightly slower song called “Facebook,” which highlights the awful feelings that come with being friends with an ex on social media. The chorus goes, “Who’s your new girlfriend?/ Why isn’t she tagged in anything you’re tagged in?” We’ve all been there.
“Walk of Shame” is a fun, fast tune, with a Kate Nash (sans English accent) meets the Ramones feel- you get the catchiness of classic ‘70’s punk, sprinkled with quality melody. It’s only appropriate that the song about a walk of shame is followed by “Blood,” a gritty jam on the anxieties of being ten days late on your period. “I bought a pregnancy test and rainbow hair clips,” the song begins, before further illustrating the art of acting like everything is fine while freaking the fuck out. Heavy guitars brilliantly back Avery’s captivating voice, showcasing the raw talent of the band.
The track “Woods” is ready to be featured on a creepy True Blood-like film or show, but with a little more indie-rock southern charm. Just listen, you’ll get it.
The band proves they can seamlessly slow it down with “Alexander,” an acoustic song that is touched by pain and heartbreak, but hopeful nonetheless. “Encore” hits a similar tone as Avery reminds herself to slow down during the hectic points of life. “Encore” precedes the last track of the album, “Knockoff,” a banger that is perfect to blast and scream along to.
The nine-track LP hits many notes that most rock bands cannot pull off over the course of their career, let along their debut album. Her voice is unlike anything I have heard in dynamic and tone, with a slight waver that is bound to become Avery Mandeville’s signature. It is perhaps best showcased in “Predator,” a powerful song about male aggressors. “First were his eyes./ He stalks her out./ Then with his mouth wide grinning./ Then with his hands, palms facing up./ She intertwines so trusting./ But when she wants out./ He closes her mouth./ She can run but she’s not that fast,” she croons, in a slightly guttural tone. In the #MeToo era, a movement that has largely ignored the music industry, this is the voice we need to hear, share, and talk about.
Happy Birthday, Avery Jane is full of softness and grit, the ‘60’s girl group sound meets punk, all highlighting the realness of trying to make it in this world while juggling everyday anxieties. In the personal pains Avery confronted during the creation of this album, she hopes to return the favor to the listener and help them feel brave.