Album review: MAN ON MAN – MAN ON MAN

Intimate jams from Roddy Bottum and Joey Holman on MAN ON MAN’s playful self-titled debut…

Album review: MAN ON MAN – MAN ON MAN
Olly Thomas

The world will not be short of lockdown-inspired recording projects for some time. Happily, though, the songs on MAN ON MAN’s debut radiate such warmth and tenderness that they stand out in a crowded field of quarantine transmissions. Listening to this album is rather like being invited not just into the home of musical and romantic partners Joey Holman and Roddy Bottum, but into the middle of an embrace that’s somewhat friendlier than the wrestling hold depicted on its cover.

Roddy will be familiar to many as the keyboard player in Faith No More, but here he eschews both their maximalist alt-metal and the bubblegum power-pop of his next best-known band Imperial Teen. Instead, MAN ON MAN deal in woozy shoegaze cuddles and wistful, low-key ballads. The mixture of propulsive rhythms, enveloping guitars and the occasional wonky synth noise on tracks like Daddy and 1983 provides the most immediately alluring sonic manifestation of their union, playful and nostalgic in equal measure.

Both these songs are also unafraid to make explicit reference to Joey and Roddy’s sexual activities, while Baby You’re My Everything and Lover are more delicate hymns to their love. MAN ON MAN is very much a celebration of their relationship, at once intimate and, given depressingly persistent prejudices, political. This wider sense of relevance comes to the fore on another of the record’s standout cuts, It’s So Fun (To Be Gay), an anthem as inclusive as it is understated. And while the album ends quietly, with Kamikaze and the subtly moving It Floated, it’s that sense of fun that burns brightest in its aftermath.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Neutral Milk Hotel, Glitterer, Teenage Wrist

MAN ON MAN is out now via Big Scary Monsters / Polyvinyl

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