Article originally appeared on The Music Nov 11th 2016
Man & The Echo’s debut has a certain ‘dinner and a show’ vibrancy to it, the swinging rhythms of buffet cabaret and the storied threads of a Dusty Springfield type somewhere on the road to Vegas punditry.
It’s a skittishly retro sound that eats off a dozen plates, blue-eyed soul buried under bites of disco, country-seasoned crooning and a suitable Britpop base, with songs that take their truths as much from cultural mythology and literary illusion as they do from elderly care and suburban despair. Many of these tales are extrapolated from frontman Gareth ‘Gaz’ Roberts’ own experiences, the years spent working for welfare rights or the dead-eyed pub patrons staring back at him at night. At times it can brush awfully close to self parody, but there’s an unalloyed sincerity in Roberts’ delivery that buoys the benefit of the doubt, enough to warrant following through on the homespun narrative threads that tie the inspirations to their tracks, and though the rhythms and themes have their own ebb and flow, the energy of the album never wavers.
The UK four-piece present even the most absurd portions of their material with a wholly committed zeal that unifies the album and speaks to their easy cohesion as a group. Even if the mix of elements may seem disparate at first, the end result is something familiar yet wholly idiosyncratic. It’s not new or daring necessarily, but is nevertheless completely fresh. As a first course, Man & The Echo is boldly genuine and compellingly flavoursome.