Francisco Martin’s latest EP Manic is a reaction to his abrupt entrance into the public eye following his run on the 18th season of American Idol. In the age of social media, the transition into becoming a public figure is more radical than ever, as every detail of your life becomes a spectacle, and there is a growing pressure behind all your professional and personal decisions. Francisco’s ascent became a burden, leading to a three month hiatus from the music scene in which he and friend and producer Nick Sarpa crafted Manic from the comfort of his home studio. The EP is a self-reflective look into Francisco’s rise to fame, and how he reacted to the rapid influx of attention he received. “Narcissist,” the second song on the project, gives insight into Francisco's new mindset: prioritizing his own well being over that of his career, regardless of public reaction. We see glimpses of nerves regarding this new outlook. Despite his career taking a backseat to his health, Fransisco still gives himself the label of narcissist for putting himself first, maybe trying to get ahead of those looking to disparage his decisions. This EP was a risky release for a relative up and comer, but Francisco Martin has done it beautifully.
Off the bat, “Narcissist” caught my attention because of how much the intro resembled that of a pop-punk song. Fast, monotone lyrics delivered over upbeat, palm muted power chords on an electric guitar. Martin’s first line of the song “Fuck that noise, I just wanna do some damage,” has a delightfully anti-establishment tone that immediately shows his ire towards the industry. The drum groove is simple, only kick and snare, providing swathes of open space for the vocals, and continuing the low, aggressive feel of the guitar as the song moves through the verse. The chorus is a powerful climax, an infusion of energy that comes out of nowhere on the heels of the subtle anger of the verse. It’s driven by chord stabs on the guitar and bass, lined up with the vocals almost creating a shout chorus with all the instruments playing in unison. The chorus maintains its punk identity through the chorus, sustaining its vigor as the song continues to unfold. It’s easy to recognize Martin’s anger immediately as the chorus releases. His fire is incredibly present and clear through his vocal delivery and his satisfyingly gravelly tone. Martin’s vocal performance gives the song life, injecting meaning and purpose behind the prominent guitar and drums. Between the in-your-face instrumental and Martin’s emotive lyrics and delivery, it’s hard not to get energized while listening to “Narcissist.”
The Manic EP is a very interesting lens through which we can look at the music industry’s treatment of its talent. Many artists have spoken about the pressure of the business and how it’s affected their health, but it is not often that we get to see an entire project dedicated to introspection in the face of an ascent, and even more rare that we hear grievances toward the industry coming from a someone still trying to build a name for themselves. Francisco has every reason to be bold, however, on the tails of his run to the top 5 on American Idol and his string of successful releases and shows. He’s been navigating the industry with the savvy of a veteran, and making amazing use of the resources at his disposal.
Written By Liam Dun
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