Man Without Country
Lost Balloon/Cooperative Music
Jun 07, 2012 Issue #41 - Yeasayer
It's nice to know Air's 10,000 Hz Legend robot is still getting work. The eerie modulated voice kicks in on Foe's title track, ominously whispering against a lush bed of dated synths, "Injustice will not stand/For every bomb that you diffuse, I will plant another." Like a Greek chorus, the voice is brought in several times throughout the record's 10 tracks—its mechanical acid tongue often delivering the headiest of blows. Thus is the emotional tone of Man Without Country's debut full-length, where every anthemic swell contains a sinister counterpoint. It's a claustrophobic combination of light and dark, meant to unsettle even as it enchants.
Obvious My Bloody Valentine acolytes, Man Without Country take a cue from shoegazers past, filling their compositions with billowing clouds of sound. But where Kevin Shields and the gang built their walls exclusively on the power of guitar, Man Without Country members Ryan James and Tomas Greenhalf spin a web that features roughly hewn electronic effects, including—in the case of 1980s-leaning "Puppets"—what sounds like the 8-bit static of video game bloops and beats.
There's some notably top-shelf singing going on as well, a fact that may be initially be lost against the oft-overwhelming instrumentals. The pair use their voices like a dark-hued Mew, blending vocal layers together in an ethereal swirl (see "Closet Addicts Anonymous"). A well-frosted but bitter pill, Foe is a glorious, melodic ride. (www.manwithoutcountry.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 9/10