The Lowdown: Becca Mancari made her debut in 2017 with Good Woman, a poetic and subtle record that put the singer-songwriter on the map. Later that year, Mancari announced that she’d be joining Bermuda Triangle, a Nashville-based trio featuring Jesse Lafser and Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard. In April of this year, Mancari announced that she’d signed to indie label Captured Tracks and released the first single off her new album, “Hunter”, produced by Paramore’s Zac Farro. That single sets the stage for The Greatest Part, a transformation of sound from the classic Americana of her debut.
The Good: The Greatest Part can be deceiving upon the first listen; it sounds like a simple, laid-back record begging to be listened to on summer drives or days on the beach. But upon closer listen, it becomes entirely something else. “I remember the first time my dad didn’t hug me back,” Mancari sweetly sings on “First Time”. Just like many of the songs on the album, “First Time” is not at all what it seems. In what sounds like a dreamy breeze of a melody, Mancari is really discussing what happened after she came out to her father. It’s the hidden depth in these songs that give them their power.
“Hunter” shines in a similar way. Written about Mancari’s experience receiving threatening letters in her mailbox from a homophobic neighbor, the song features dreamy psych-rock guitars with anxious strings in the background a la Radiohead’s “Burn the Witch”. Sounding more like a song you’d tap your foot to at an outdoor show, it’s unsettling once the actual message of the song becomes clear. In a way, it’s almost callous to call these songs “hidden gems” when the meaning of them is so heavy, but Mancari’s ability to give listeners such relaxed, spirited tunes accompanied by deeply personal and woeful lyrics is what makes The Greatest Part so incredible.
Despite the crossing of genres becoming ever present in music today, Mancari’s blend remains unique and gives the album a special feel. Using fuzzy psych guitars, dreamlike vocals that float above the instrumentals reminiscent of Frankie Cosmos, and the occasional slide guitar twang, Mancari’s musical brand holds its own place in the world of genre mixing. On musical standout “Lonely Boy”, synths and strings fight for attention, and psych riffs increasingly push above everything else, all while Mancari croons about seeing herself in her dog. “Lonely Boy” may seem like a crowded song, but it entirely works. Mancari also has strength in stripped-down melodies, as closer “Forgiveness” exhibits perfectly. With such dimension and variety, The Greatest Part establishes Mancari as an artist with immense versatility.
The Bad: The first half of The Greatest Part holds more weight than the latter part of the album. It blends psych with indie pop and adds the occasional folky bend, creating an incredibly individual sound that gives Mancari a unique place at the crossroads of Americana and indie pop. The second half of the album, however, returns back to Mancari’s roots and sounds more like her debut. Despite showcasing her talent in crafting vulnerable Americana, The Greatest Part shines brightest when Mancari explores this crossing of genres. If the first half of the album previews what’s next to come for Mancari, it’s definitely something to be excited about.
The Verdict: The Greatest Part earns its place as a second record that is a definitive step forward, specifically musically. It’s a fantastic album to lay around the house and do nothing while listening, and yet it’s no stranger to provoking thoughtful conversations with its lyrical content. Although the energy at the beginning of the album stands tallest, Mancari’s more stripped-down tracks towards the end showcase her proficiency in crafting different sounds. The Greatest Part’s mixing of indie-pop, psych, and Americana make it distinctively its own and establish Mancari as an artist to watch.
Essential Tracks: “Lonely Boy”, “Bad Feeling”, and “Pretend”
Pick up The Greatest Part here…