“The key is under the mat. Do what you want with that.”
That is quite possibly my favourite lyric of 2017 to date. Why? Well, because of the fact that it sounds initially like a mundane line about everyday life, yet the more you ponder on it, you realise just what a loaded statement it is. I need not explain why. Just read that lyric a few times and consider it quietly. It also helps that the song is barely two minutes of gloriously fidgety electronica, perhaps recalling (not for the only time on this album) The Stranglers on their ‘Skin Deep‘ single way back when.
Chris Baio, of course, is best known as Vampire Weekend‘s bassist, the latter being one of the most affable, fan-friendly bands I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Chris was probably the most endearing of the lot that night in Birmingham, so it stands to reason that you want the guy to succeed. Happily, he does exactly that, even on tangential veerings such as ‘Exquisite Interlude‘, which is kind of camp (“I’m a man of exquisite taste, and I LOVE what you’ve done with the place!”) but purveys a slow, sensual groove for its brief duration.
Man Of The World, for the most part, reflects a feeling of helplessness, Baio having arrived from the States as a UK resident just as all the Brexit nonsense was kicking off, and watched in disbelief as a giant man-baby won the US election and immediately set about destroying much of his predecessor’s good work. “It’s partially about being trapped in my own head, obsessing about things it was too late to change, feeling guilty and afraid and alone“, says Chris, and maybe it’s because of this that his music is so easy to relate to. “Learning to live with a decision“, he sings on opener ‘Vin Mariani‘, “when it’s not the one I would have made” and we all nod our heads in agreement. Personally I found the whole EU referendum thing the most stressful period of my life, so it’s actually nice to hear that I was far from alone, and even bonafide pop stars felt it too.
There are many varied musical reference points too, some of which are revered, now sadly departed, godlike artists, such as Bowie or Prince (certainly in terms of the ‘When Doves Cry‘ style keyboard work anyway), others being Marmite New Romantic acts such as Duran Duran or their contemporaries ABC. Occasionally there’s even a nod to Aussie bands like INXS or The Triffids (the much missed David McComb’s old band seem to have infiltrated the minds of many of today’s artists, lately). Listen to the thumping beats of ‘Sensitive Guy‘ or lead single ‘PHILOSOPHY!‘ and you’ll see what I mean.
Despite the severity of its subject matter, Man Of The World manages to be engaging, intelligent and above all, a bundle of fun. Much like Chris Baio himelf, in fact.
Man Of The World is out now on Glassnote.