Man Without Country is not just a human without a homeland, but a being of timeless energy too. This synth driven EP feels like a neon fever dream. It pulses with the electric heartbeat of a cyberpunk disco hall from a dystopian future, it sparks with the experimental excitement at the invention of electronic music. It takes the tastiest morsels from the past, straps a jetpack onto them and blasts them into next year’s pop charts.
The EP opens with Pilot a purely instrumental track that introduces just how rich and beautifully layered the rest of the album will be. The soundscape features heavily in the dark throbbing synth that is having a massive resurgence in popularity right now. Weaved into this are the precision drums, various echoes, and even some retro 8-bit game sound effects.
Track 2 is Savannah which introduces not only the vocal side of the album, but the lyrical one too. Man Without Country writes unabashedly honestly on this track and every other. Tackling dark themes with the same confidence and smooth delivery that most other songwriters reserve for poppier shlock stock in terms of lyrics, here we see how well the two juxtaposed camps can mingle and move intertwined. The base of the sound remains the dark synthwave, but now we have some more obvious instrumentation with some melodic woodwind elements as well as a stronger presence from the retro game sounds.
Gardener In A War takes all of the themes and sounds introduced already and turbocharges them. While it might not be a shift up in terms of raw energy the track itself is supersonic, if the previous two were fuelling the ship, here is where we jet into cosmic interstellar jams. It continues bringing more instrumentation to build and layer on the throbbing writhing synthwave bed, and it drops the game sound effects in favour of a more serious progression and break later in the track. Lyrically it is the best on the album, a gorgeously raw and honest account of a fathers fear of failure and hope for the brightest possible future for their child.
Next up is Our Silences which does step up in terms of groovability. It has a harder and much easier to follow bass that leads your feet into an easy shuffling dance almost involuntarily. If you’re looking to break a sweat and shake off the ring rust with an at home disco then this is the track you want.
The EP closes out with Ultra-Nightmare which is a culmination of everything that came before. It is a slow build with intricate layering of sound that bubbles and pulses into its final form. This track takes longer and lingers in the anticipation before it reaches its climax, it continues on in the theme of pure and raw honesty in its lyrics, telling the story of a man making hard choices and the pain of the conflict.
Man Without Country crafts songs with lyrics so sharply penned that the imagery is impossible to escape. The emotion and feeling seeps out in neon hues and entangles the listener, dragging them limb by limb into the dizzy electric soundscape. You can choose to smile, cry, or just dance along to the intricate rhythms, but what you can’t do is ignore the power of the songwriting.
Words by Matt Miles.