Scottish two-piece, Man of Moon, have today released their debut album, ‘Dark Sea‘ and the psychedelic influenced rock duo have knocked it out the park.
Several years ago I stumbled upon Man of Moon whilst attending a We Were Promised Jetpacks gig in Aberdeen. The duo, made up of frontman, Chris Bainbridge and drummer, Michael Reid, have since honed their musical talents and produced a wonderful first record.
If you’ve had the good fortune of seeing Man of Moon in recent years then you should recognise some of these tracks and that makes this release all the more enjoyable. In the words of Bainbridge, “What you’re about to hear, are songs. They speak of days of dark sea and what they’ve done to me.”
Those words are the chilling opening lines of this powerful record. The chills quickly disappear as the album’s opening track, “Intro” suddenly gets very loud with a thundering guitar and aggressive drums.
In this three minute opener, Man of Moon give you a very good insight into what they’re all about – electronic orientated backdrops, moments of calm followed by walls of noise and impressive lyrics that give you something to think about.
The intro leads nicely into one of the band’s oldest tracks, “The Road (Dark Sea Version)” which has been built upon from its 2015 release. The most noticeable difference between the two is the pace of either track, with the most recent update marching to a swifter beat.
However, that’s just one of the changes though as the album version of this track has a lot more ooooomph about it as well as being more than a minute and a half longer. The album time has this track as 5m.34s but it feels like one of those songs which they could play for 15 minutes as they close out a show.
“Strangers” is a recent release which the band have previously used to close out live shows as it’s one that really gets the crowd going.
It’s got a bumping bass, some fantastic electronic elements and a catchy cow bell. This is not the kind of song that you’d expect on a debut record because of its experimental nature but there’s no denying that this track is a winner.
The duo demonstrate their versatility as they go from upbeat dance-rock on “Strangers” to a grittier sound on the more thought-provoking “Silver Linings.” The track (misspelt on Spotify) is one of the album’s standouts. It opens on a poignant guitar before Reid’s drums come bounding in alongside Bainbridge’s whamming guitar.
If you enjoy great indie rock then this is a track for you. It has glorious guitar riffs, solid vocals and a nice breakdown towards the end which give the song an extra element. It goes from a very loud track to something quite calming with a quieter guitar and drums before the louder sound re-enters alongside some electronic influenced sounds.
Man of Moon keep you guessing as they go from loud to an interlude which once again doesn’t scream, “first album.” Normally we look to interludes as fillers with perhaps less meaning to the fans and more to the bands. That’s not the case here.
The track opens on the distorted words of deceased US astronaut, Gordon Cooper, who says, “This is a new and strange environment at first, suddenly finding yourself in orbit.” These words are eventually met by a guitar that wouldn’t sound out of place in the American frontier.
This sound gradually builds before Bainbridge announces himself with some reverberated vocals. It’s another track that has brought Man of Moon crowds to a deathly silence before enveloping them in a wall of noise during live shows. At 3m. 56s this track becomes a much louder prospect and be warned, it will wake up your neighbours.
The interlude acts as a segue into the second half of the album which most certainly has a heavier rock feel to it. It kicks off with, “When We Were Young” which has elements of Scottish instrumental heroes, Mogwai, about it. This is a gritty but graceful number with Bainbridge’s vocals perfectly matching the ominous sound on this track.
The slower tempo on, “When We Were Young” is quickly forgotten on, “Black Snow” which almost has a country feel to it as Man of Moon once again display their ability to incorporate varied genres into their own unique sound. Is there anything they can’t do?
The album enters the final stretch with two previously released tracks, “Ride the Waves” and “Rust.” “Ride the Waves” is a full frontal rock effort with a heavy bass and a trippy electronic ending whilst, “Rust” is probably the album’s most meaningful sounding song.
It opens on a guitar that quite simply just makes you think before Bainbridge sings vocals, “Change is dripping off of us. I can’t be left alone, I’m tripping over time again.” These vocals and sound display a maturity that is not normally associated with newness and that’s what make this band so exciting.
“Rust” continues with a similar vigour before becoming more and more upbeat and exciting in a climax that leaves you wanting more. The record closes out on the slow burning, “Coming Back” which enables Man of Moon to play their final card with a slow but surprising track.
It perhaps demonstrates what this duo can do. In four minutes they build up a track with slow vocals, instruments and sounds but you just have that inkling that something else is coming. That “something else” becomes apparent in the end as a loud snare drum and more prevalent guitar dominate the end of the track.
Man of Moon have delivered a phenomenal debut album and this should bring them a much wider audience. You can buy, ‘Dark Sea’ here.