True to form with the impressionist painting that serves its cover art, “Return To Ithaca” is, on the surface, simplistic but only because the complexities of it make it seem that way.
MANWOMANCHILD’s new single is certainly a return, but more so to the 80s college rock that was infamously responsible for the alternative rock blow up of the 90s. “Return To Ithaca” implores the jangly guitar melodies, thudding bass lines and simplistic drum techniques that have kept the chokehold on college rock for thirty years. In the same vein of catchy tunes like “Radio Free Europe” (R.E.M.) and “Away” (The Feelies), the single maintains a dominating presence, albeit disguised as a playful pop song.
The Philadelphia-based group has been bobbing up over and under the surface like a buoy since their inception in 2008. Originally from Providence, singer/guitarist David Child has carried his band’s brand of indie rock all over New England. The band even scored a hit over in Chile after they recorded the song “Chile La Roja”, about Chile’s 2010 World Cup team.
With an album and a plethora of singles under its belt, MANWOMANCHILD is becoming a prominent figurehead of jangle-rock on the East Coast, and this new single “Return To Ithaca” is one more rung on the ladder towards indie rock perfection.
Equal parts nostalgia-inducing depression and hopeful thoughts towards the future, Child sings the lyrics like he’s stuck right in the middle. Amidst the song’s twee like vibe, Child sings sweetly, anesthetizing the violence and destruction of, what was presumably, his old neighborhood with a promise to himself that he “knew better” when things were going good.
Which says a lot for the song itself; it’s neither a ballad for what once was nor is it a celebration of one moving forward. It’s representative of that weird middle ground of uncertainty we all feel in situations like this. That seems to be the eye of the storm of this song. The dynamics of the intricacies of the guitar melody and the simplicity of the song’s pop-rock roots creates a middle ground that doesn’t pull you one way or the other, but rather helps you embrace both sides as they are, that they are both equal parts to this song. Listen on their Soundcloud page here.