Man Duo ‘Orbit’

Boasting sharp synthpop hooks built with a slick efficiency, Man Duo are a band that manage to look back without feeling dated and ultimately feel very much like a product of the modern age
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Understated and slick, Man Duo are an electronica entity fit for the modern age. When autonomy is a mainstay of modern culture, the slickly mysterious persona that Man Duo craft for themselves seems fitting. Electronic music may not be a new genre, but it is one that remains as relevant and fresh as when it started, so it makes sense that Man Duo manage to sound very much like music made for 2017, despite the decidedly early ’80s stylings of the group’s bubbling, bright guitars and bouncing synthesizers.

There’s a punchy immediacy to the band’s songs on ‘Orbit’; they’re pieces of music crafted with the efficient grace of a well-oiled machine, the relentless forward motion of ‘Ile’s Dream’ boasting almost mechanical precision. The group have an undeniably streamlined approach to songwriting that places emphasis on hooks and immediacy first and foremost – this aerodynamic attitude to songcraft serves the duo well and also reinforces the more machine-like elements of their sound. Vocals on opener ‘One Formula’ are warped beyond recognition; twisted and pitch shifted to achieve a sound that straddles the realms of both the human and the automaton. It’s an intriguing duality that, though not exactly previously unexplored (see genre dominators Kraftwerk for more of that) definitely has potential to be expanded upon further.

While ‘Orbit’s unfussy, workman-like arrangements and understated delivery accentuate the more inhuman aspects of Man Duo’s sound, to paint them exclusively as purveyors of clinical, flawlessly-engineered synthpop is to do the band an injustice. The yearning ache and general pathos of ‘The Middle’ is more than enough to prove that there’s a decidedly human heart beating away behind the layers of wire and electrodes, the song’s soulful delivery and frustrated passion are the mark of decidedly human vulnerabilities.

Man Duo are an intriguing musical proposition; there’s definite soul under the layers of electronics, but the pivotal core of their sound is one of slick, neatly produced synthpop crafted with a sharp ear for melody and a nose for immediate hooks. It’s well made stuff and, while Man Duo certainly don’t seek to make any great alterations to the genre’s established conventions, ‘Orbit’ is a rock solid effort for those looking for a dose of understated electropop.

‘Orbit’ is out now on Kaya Kaya Records. The full track-listing for the album is as follows…

1. One Formula
2. Ile’s Dream
3. The Middle
4. What If It Falls
5. Tanyan Teema
6. Unter Vier Augen
7. Vanessa
8. Vanessa

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