Man Or Astroman? - Defcon 5...4...3...2...1 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Man Or Astroman? - Defcon 5...4...3...2...1

by Amy Putman Rating:9.5 Release Date:2013-06-03

Man or Astroman's music is like listening to the Tasmanian Devil performing a 50s mash-up. It is a whirlwind of rock n roll that wraps and lifts you up into the kind of desperate joy you only get when dancing or fucking; the exquisite tension of being in a flashing moment of intensity. In this case, the experience is pure, searing, vigorous, whirling musical beauty.

This is music that is thick with the fruits of experimentation but, at the same time, rooted in tried and tested technique that has been honed over many years of practice. It has been a long time since Man or Astroman last released something but the intervening years are audible in this album; everything is toned to perfection, opulent and rich in a way that only glowing, throbbing rock can be.... but it is never verbose or overblown. In short, this album is a delicious reduction; the perfect culmination of all of their previous work.

Its primary drives are energy and motion. I challenge anyone not to dance whilst listening to this. If you're into ballads or angst you won't find it here. There are a couple of tracks with a bittersweet lilt but it's more Buddy Holly on a sad day than anything else, and Buddy even sung about heartbreak with a bouncing upbeat.

This is music to twist to; to run to; music to play whilst speeding with your top down on a summer evening, wind in your hair. It is also deeply sexy - the 'waouw' sounds tapped straight into my clitoris like a shot of tequila from a hot lady's breasts... Or Phil Anselmo... You know, that instant rev from zero to splooge... The way I'm told the Diet Coke guy does for many women.

I couldn't face picking out any one track because in my mind they were all equally and absolutely awesome. To prize one against another seemed dishonest and a disservice to the talent and prowess of the band. This album is like the soundtrack to a John Hughes movie if he wasn't so concretely 1980s. It taps into, encapsulates, and evokes youthful rebellion, confusion, vivacity and the desire we all have to release our primal sides, ditch society and really live for a day, burning all our reserves, truths and relationships in one almighty rocket ride towards an explosion of raw joy.

This album is less pure instrumental then their previous work and slightly more contemporary with some indie punk vocals. Lyrics are also less quirky but snazzier; slicker. Altogether it brings their sound further towards the present, with less Beefheart-style rambling, and more dance mixed into their permeating 50 rock 'n' roll aesthetic. In 'Arc', they also dabble with grunge style vocals layered over hard rock and sharp percussion, which is a wonderful surprise. 'Cuccoon' is fantastically evocative of old school dystopian futurism, with some USSR style chanting that raises the hairs on the neck. It's startling and eerie but no less engaging or enjoyable; it's exciting beauty.

The structure of the album is perfectly designed. As the 'Defcons' progress, the tracks increase in energy and urgency. With that comes a strident theme of rebellion, clutching at the thrills of life; a voice that simply demands you fuck it all and embrace the joys you can. It hugs tightly to the chaos, deep-throating a dark future and giving into the basest level of instinct, relinquishing humanity in the face of desperation. This lusty yawp sums up the natural response of those of us who are powerless in the face of impending doom.

Man or Astroman are never sleazy, retro or outdated yet somehow contain all those tweaking elements, warping them back into being cool through force of will, talent and relentlessly awesome and unexpected combinations. They might be retro but their point is more snarling-summer-sex-biker, rather than bus-riding-Elvis-swagger. They are the fuzz of radio and the burn of arson; they are the heat haze rising hot from the tarmac and an arch of drunken, rolling, slipping, sliding whine. They are everything that is the thrusting vibrancy of youth and emotion. They are, quite simply, cool.

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