Mannequin Pussy’s Music Is Built on Big Emotions (and Inside Jokes)

“So, who’s the pig lover here?”

Wandering the grounds of Ross Mill Farm, a foster home and boarding spot for porcine pets about an hour outside Philadelphia, the four members of the band Mannequin Pussy answered the facility’s owner nearly in unison: “We all are!”

Pigs are pack animals — not so different from being in a touring rock band, the singer and guitarist Marisa Dabice, 36, noted playfully. Maxine Steen, 34, who plays synths and guitar, felt an instant kinship with a hesitant hog named Max, proclaiming them both “so aloof.” The band, which also includes the drummer Kaleen Reading, 31, and the bassist Colins Regisford, 37, known as Bear, has been spotted with livestock a lot lately. In two of its recent music videos, the quartet cavorts with cows and sheep, and a pig features prominently on the cover of its fierce new album, “I Got Heaven.”

Mannequin Pussy’s earliest releases were a fuzzy punk squall, but in its more than 10-year-run, its music has come to incorporate shoegazey swirls of sound, sharp hooks and intimate moments of vulnerability. The band reached a turning point in 2019 with “Patience,” an album that struck a balance between its more savage and tender sides. The coronavirus pandemic subsequently halted its touring plans, but not its momentum.

In 2021, a fictional act performed the group’s songs in the Pennsylvania-centric HBO show “Mare of Easttown,” and the band was featured in the comic book series “Witchblood.” “I feel like it’s rare to say this,” Dabice said, “but we got a little lucky with the pandemic.” The band capitalized on the chance to catch its breath while still finding new listeners, and returns on Friday with “I Got Heaven,” a striking collection of songs about desire, control and resilience.

“There’s this sultry ferocity that feels very unique to them,” Michelle Zauner, who records as Japanese Breakfast and has been a fan since the band’s earliest days, said in an email. “But they’ve also got a wonderful knack for melody and real lyrical depth.”

“We’re in the pursuit of making art, and that’s our personal experience with the divine,” Dabice said. Credit… Jim Bennett/Getty Images

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