21 August 2012
The debut album by Man Without Country is a melodic, emotional ride.
Man without Country are a duo from Cardiff. Ryan James and Tomas Greenhalf wanted a name that echoed a certain “sense of not belonging”. That metaphor has been strongly carried through to match their music – a heavy electronic hue that merges the contrasting oeuvre and classic eighties histrionics of the Pet Shop Boys with the more ambient atmospheres of M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming to deliver an excellent debut effort.
Strong melodies and even stronger electronic hooks come together to form a glossy sheen that hides a much darker and melancholic undercurrent.
Album opener and title track ‘Foe’ sets the scene nicely – bold and brave, it features layered analog and digital synthesizers over which a completely unemotional computerised voice broadcasts from a timeless zone. Next up is the single ‘Puppets’, a monstrous beast of a track and also one of the album’s easier to follow.
Elsewhere, definitely look out for ‘King Complex’ and ‘Ebb & Flow’. The former is yet another treatise on the inane celebrity culture that modern media has cultivated to the point of absurdity, while the latter – ‘Ebb & Flow’ – features the computerised voice from ‘Foe’ to further cultivate the detached and minimalist feeling that is impossible to shake.
A clash of darkness and light, ‘Foe’ is as unsettling as it is enchanting. You’d be rather foolish to underestimate this record.