Man Without Country - Maximum Entropy - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Man Without Country - Maximum Entropy

by Justin Pearson Rating:7.5 Release Date:2015-01-19

Man Without Country continue to effortlessley churn out big, glossy electro-pop songs on Maximum Entropy, the follow-up to their debut album Foe. It can be described as easy listening - not in the boring, elevator-music sense, but rather in the literal sense. There's an instant accessibility that courses through the veins of the album.

Upon repeat listens, however, it loses some of its initial excitement for the very same reason. They've proven to still be capable of the smooth, cleansing, wide-eyed anthems that garnered comparisons to M83 and the like, yet the peak these songs strive for seems out of reach at times.

One of the strongest tracks is 'Entropy', which makes its namesake proud with its infectious disorder. The melody collapses in on itself and then bursts open via chaotic drumming and ray-gun synths coming from every direction. The ghostly female vocal that dips and soars over it all supplies a sense of creation rather than destruction. 'Oil Spill' also deals with similar themes and makes mess an attractive thing. The lyrics ("I want to swim in your oil spill") seem perfectly logical and relatable within the context of the song, while the melody gleams beautifully with a sense of comfort in chaos. 

A solid throwback to the synth-driven hits of the 80s, 'Laws of Motion' towers with a forward-leaning confidence backed by the angelic guest vocals of Morgan Kibby, aka White Sea. Just as catchy, 'Catfish' furthers this onward motion, but this time with Danish singer Lisa Alma as guest. The interplay of both vocals gives a delicate frame to the quietly techno-infused melody that rests just below the surface. Its momentum is similar to slowly wading into a pool and then going for a record-setting swim.

Where Maximum Entropy falters a little is in its second half. A good example is 'Incubation' where not much happens besides a staleness that drones on before any vocals take shape, and by the time they do, the song is over. 'Deliver Us From Evil' also seems to be missing something, or perhaps it's just too much of the same thing. These are a couple of skippable moments for me on a mostly complete effort.

The album ends on a solid note with 'Sweet Harmony'. It's positive and upbeat with its urgent, timely message of togetherness: "Make the world your priority/ Play a part in a greater scheme/ Let's come together right now in sweet harmony." It plods along with its plea of unity and cajoles you to bob your head along with anyone else in the world who may be listening too. It sometimes flirts with corniness but never properly courts it, which is what most good pop songs are wont to do.

On Maximum Entropy, Man Without Country project an easy clarity even among a few clouds. It's when the clouds break that their capabilites as a band really shine. Where Foe pushed boundaries and lent a bend to its stride, Maximum Entropy pulls back slightly and stays comfortably snug in its assuredness. Its swagger is tempered by the tidiness of the lines that the album colors. It will only be when they trade the safe, familiar crayons for the shockingly bright, less-frequently used ones that their masterpiece will arise. It's almost there though; you can feel it.

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