An acid-fried existentialism rests at the heart of TashHagz’s “Mankind & Destiny”. From the playful rhythms to the freak-folk flair, it all comes together as the singular unique vision of Mike Shields. The stylistic potpourri includes everything from an updated psychedelic rock to snippets of Tropicalia, electro-pop, freak-folk, and folk punk all perfectly balanced. By far the true heart and soul of the song comes from TashHagz’s carefully considered lyricism. His cleverness truly shines for the entirety of the song focuses on something greater than the here and now into deeper questions about existence. When placed alongside the jubilant melodies and giddy grooves the words gain a poignancy.
The array of influences abounds throughout the whole of the piece. His vocals feel highly reminiscent of Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. Like Wayne Coyne, his surrealist-soaked narratives have an emotional resonance, as the exploration of loss and what happens next is the track’s primary focus. Joyous melodies alongside such macabre word choice also takes a page from Of Montreal’s output for their celebratory atmosphere is often paired with Southern Gothic vignettes. A DIY ethos reigns supreme for Mike Shields does it all from bass and lead guitars to drum programming to synthesizers, touching upon St. Vincent’s all-encompassing knack for impeccable arrangements. By maintaining full and complete control over the sound TashHagz crafts something that is distinctly their own in the way they want, resulting in a rather nimble deftly sculpted sound.
Not a moment is wasted for the heady sound starts up immediately. The tactile percussion feels rather soulful while it nimbly skirts the soulful groove. Bass has a low-slung physicality to it always nicely resting the entirety of the sound on its capable shoulders. A rich neon-hued synthesizer filters into the track ensuring that the swirling mix is given so much dazzling color. Upon the inclusion of the vocals everything truly begins in earnest. His delivery is wry and the lyrics have a satirist’s wit about them. Exploration of the beyond happens as the piece deals with a sense of loss, of what death truly brings. Mike Shields’ lyricism is highly personal as it references losing his mother and father, yet it feels truly universal. Everything about the piece seems to highlight this fact, that there is inevitably a sense of chaos that there will always be things beyond one’s control. This acceptance is what drives the song and makes it emotionally compelling.
“Mankind & Destiny” proves TashHagz to be a storyteller of the surreal probing deep into life’s many questions and doing so with compassion.