Wax Mannequin’s music has changed over the years, moving away from conceptual work on records like And GunThe Price and Orchard and Ire to more explicitly personal and folky songs on Saxon and his most recent, 2012’s No Safe Home.

That might sound like code for “He used to make interesting music for dull robots”. Not so –– one of the songs from that early period “Thing Game”, shreds me inside to this day, and I can’t quite tell why. Part of it’s how much conviction Wax brings to the whole spare affair. Part of it’s definitely the meow break in the middle. (A “meow break”? That’s where he meows in the song, like an emotional cat would.) He meows a bunch on 2004’s The Price, but nowhere else on the album does it make me want to go someplace quiet and sob like it does on “Thing Game”.

Every time I’ve seen him perform it live –– with accompaniment or on his own during one of his many great Regina solo shows — it proves again that Wax Mannequin has all my emotional buttons mapped out better than I do myself.

Wax Mannequin is playing in O’Hanlon’s tonight, Tuesday, July 29 with Shimmering Stars.