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Music / Mansun

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Attack Of The Grey Lantern-era Mansun
Mansun were a British Alternative Rock band formed in 1995, largely known for having several hits towards the end of the Britpop era, however they were also known for their much more experimental and ambitious sound than most Britpop groups, taking influences from Glam Rock, Post-Punk, Art Rock and Progressive Rock. In 1997 they released their debut album, Attack Of The Grey Lantern, an album that mixed catchy Britpop with Progressive Rock and Art Rock complexity as well as elements of Glam Rock and Alternative Dance. The album was originally intended to be a fully fledged Concept Album with a coherent story, however Mansun's frontman and main songwriter Paul Draper has said that he "lost his nerve" which resulted in the album's story and concept being left roughly half-finished, or as Draper calls it "a con album". The album's concept would have revolved around the titular Grey Lantern fighting various strange and disturbing characters living in a fictional English village, and some of this concept remains in the album, particularly in songs such as "Taxloss", "Egg Shaped Fred", "The Chad Who Loved Me" and "Dark Mavis".

The album was very successful, reaching #1 in the UK album charts, being acclaimed by several publications as one of the best albums of 1997 and spawning five UK top 40 singles, most notably "Wide Open Space", which charted at #15 in the UK singles chart and #25 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, as well as receiving a highly successful dance remix by DJ Paul Oakenfold.

Following this, in late 1998 the band released their much Darker and Edgier follow up Six, a highly complex and often very dark album that moved away from the upbeat Britpop, Glam Rock and Alternative Dance influences of their debut in favour of dialling the Progressive Rock and Art Rock side of their sound up and even bordering on outright Experimental Rock, along with plenty of Epic Rocking. The album itself received critical acclaim and while not reaching the same commercial success as its predecessor, still debuted on the UK album charts at #6 and spawning three UK top 20 singles and one top 40 single.


In 2000, Mansun released their third album, Little Kix, which was a much Lighter and Softer and more commercial effort, however this was largely due to massive Executive Meddling on part of their record company. The album, although spawning Mansun's most successful single "I Can Only Disappoint U" was unsuccessful in comparison to its predecessors, peaking at #12 on the UK charts and receiving mixed reviews. This lack of success, coupled with the Executive Meddling, caused tension and strain within the band, which Draper felt was already beginning to come to an end, and this ultimately led to a relatively acrimonious breakup in 2003, albeit after recording the majority of a fourth album intended to return the band to its darker and more complex roots with a Post-Punk influenced sound, which was released in 2004 under the name Kleptomania with two bonus discs containing B-sides, remixes and rarities from throughout the band's career.


Since the band split Draper has released a solo album, Spooky Action, in 2017, and Attack Of The Grey Lantern and Six have been given Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition releases in 2010 and 2018 for AOTGL and 2019 for Six. For record store day in 2020, a 'lost' album recorded as a more commercial and accessible alternative to Six in case that album got rejected by the label for being too experimental was finally released, called The Dead Flowers Reject.

Mansun's Discography:

  • Attack Of The Grey Lantern (1997)
  • Six (1998)
  • Little Kix (2000)
  • Kleptomania (2004)
  • The Dead Flowers Reject (2020)

Mansun's Members:

  • Paul Draper - Lead Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards (1995-2003)
  • Stove King - Bass (1995-2002)
  • Dominic Chad - Guitars, Backing Vocals, Keyboards (1995-2003)
  • Carlton Hibbert - Drums (1995-1996)
  • Mark Swinnerton - Drum Machine, Programming (1995-1996)
  • Julian Fenton - Drums (1996)
  • Andie Rathbone - Drums (1996-2003)

Tropes are a compromise anyway...:

  • Alternative Dance: Attack Of The Grey Lantern dabbles in this genre a lot, although the band mostly moved away from it afterwards.
    • The single mix of Six is a lot more danceable and electronics-heavy than the album version.
  • Alternative Rock
  • Ambiguous Ending: Attack Of The Grey Lantern has an ambiguous plot, due to Paul Draper "losing his nerve" and giving up on the Concept Album idea half way through.
  • Black Comedy: all over their work, save for Little Kix due to Executive Meddling
    • Attack Of The Grey Lantern is particularly notable for this, what with its stripping and crossdressing vicars.
  • Book Ends: Attack Of The Grey Lantern's opening track, "The Chad Who Loved Me" begins with a string intro, which later turns up at the end of the album's final track "Dark Mavis", serving as an outro and bookend to the album. note 
  • Brit Pop: Dabbled in this genre initially, mainly on Attack Of The Grey Lantern, however they were a lot more eclectic musically and unusual lyrically than most other Brit Pop groups of the late 90s.
  • Concept Album: Attack Of The Grey Lantern. Sort of.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: The Vicar/Mavis in Attack Of The Grey Lantern.
  • Darker and Edgier: Six, which featured a much heavier, less commercial and more complex sound than Attack Of The Grey Lantern.
    • Kleptomania counts as this as well, especially after Little Kix
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover of Six
    • Attack Of The Grey Lantern arguably counts as well.
  • Downer Ending: Attack Of The Grey Lantern. Probably.
  • Epic Rocking:
    • From ''Attack Of The Grey Lantern": "Mansun's Only Love Song" is almost six minutes, "Taxloss" is seven minutes long and "Dark Mavis" is eight and a half minutes
    • The main example of this in the band's discography is their second album, Six: The title track is eight minutes long, "Shotgun" is six and a half, "Cancer" is nine and a half minutes long, "Television" is eight and a half, "Special/Blown It (Delete As Appropriate)" is five and a half, "Legacy" is six and a half and "Being A Girl" is eight minutes.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Mansun's Only Love Song".
  • Fading into the Next Song: Many songs on both Attack Of The Grey Lantern and Six do this.
  • Hidden Track: "An Open Letter To The Lyrical Trainspotter"
  • Large Ham: Paul has his moments, particularly at the end of "Being A Girl"
  • Lighter and Softer: Little Kix was initially intended by the band to be this after the darkness of Six, before the label's Executive Meddling led to the album becoming too much of this trope.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Attack Of The Grey Lantern is loaded with this trope, being an upbeat Britpop album loaded with Black Comedy songs about strange and disturbing characters.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The US version of Six, simply consisting of the band's name and the album title in dark brown lettering on what appears to be the painted-over page of a book, which is the complete opposite of the Design Student's Orgasm of the original cover.
  • MST3K Mantra: The gist of what "An Open Letter To The Lyrical Trainspotter" is about.
  • New Sound Album: Every album, pretty much.
  • The '90s
  • Oop North: From Chester, a small town near Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Post-Punk: The band dabbled in this genre on Kleptomania.
  • Progressive Rock: On their first two albums, mainly on Six.
  • Self-Deprecation: "An Open Letter To The Lyrical Trainspotter", which savages the band's lyrics as much as it does the fans reading too much into them.
  • The '70s: Not from the decade itself, being a 90s band, however they were very heavily influenced by 70s music genres, such as Glam Rock and Progressive Rock.
  • Shout-Out: The band's name is likely a reference to Charles Manson.
    • The album cover of Six is absolutely loaded with this trope, featuring:
    • Tom Baker appears as The Fourth Doctor from Doctor Who, as does the TARDIS.
    • Winnie the Pooh also makes an appearance.
    • He is seen standing next to the Taoist painting The Vinegar Tasters.
    • Number Six from The Prisoner is also seen on the album cover, sat in a chair used by the Number Twos and the Penny Farthing bicycle seen in the title card appears in a stained glass window.
    • There are also several books on the album cover:
    • Many of these books are referenced within the lyrics of the album.
  • Stage Names: Stove King.
  • Take That, Audience!: "An Open Letter To The Lyrical Trainspotter", the final Hidden Track on Attack Of The Grey Lantern which humorously fires a shot at fans who are likely to try and analyse the lyrics of the album too deeply. Also counts as Self-Deprecation.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: What happens with Mavis, who is revealed to be The Vicar from "Stripper Vicar" at the end of Attack Of The Grey Lantern.
  • Trans Tribulations: Essentially what "Being A Girl" is about, with a heavy dash of Marxism thrown in for good measure.
  • The Vicar: The titular "Stripper Vicar" who at the end of Attack Of The Grey Lantern is revealed to be Mavis.

The tropes aren't supposed to mean that much...