Album Review: Man Made – TV Broke My Brain

TV Broke My Brain

man-made-tv-broke-my-brainReleased April 15th 2016

Words: Gary Feeney

Hailing (mostly) from Manchester, three-piece band Man Made have been building a solid reputation for themselves as a live act over the last few years. With a number of prestigious festival and support slots already under their belts they prepare for the release of their debut album TV Broke My Brain. At this point, I may as well point out that singer, guitarist and song-writer Nile Marr is the son of Johnny – probably every other review is going to mention this, so I might as well briefly jump on that bandwagon, although I promise I won’t stay on for long, not least because judging anyone’s music against that of one of Britain’s finest musicians would be an entirely pointless exercise, son or no son.

Having said that, the first time I heard the eponymous track, I must admit that I was struck by a resemblance between the two, although perhaps one that may not be too obvious to those unfamiliar with Marr Snr’s solo career, in particularly his spell with The Healers: specifically, I was taken aback by the fleeting similarities in the pair’s voices. You know that way when you have two relatives together and one turns round a certain way and you think how much alike they look even though you don’t normally see the likeness? Much like that.

It’s obvious, however, from the opening track, Carsick Cars, that Nile Marr has no need at all to rely on family connections to succeed as a musician. Bursting to life with an excellent guitar riff and an infectious chorus, it’s a great scene-setter, highlighting Marr’s obvious ability as a guitarist and as a writer and is followed by the excellent Hi Tech Low Life which is sure to have your head nodding and toes tapping with its catchy vocal melody and guitar hooks.

There’s an unmistakeably Northern feel to Man Made’s music, something that’s most pronounced in tracks like You Never Know How It Feels and All Mine, combining an ever-so-slightly baggy vibe with soaring guitar lines and choruses, topped off with Marr’s Mancunian drawl. It’s a fine combination and is used to best effect on Raining In My Head, which is my personal highlight form the album; again Marr’s inventive guitar playing is to the fore before building to a memorable, sweeping chorus. It’s probably the one moment on the album that really puts you in mind of the Smiths and Marr Snr, but that’s more of a testament to the song’s quality as much as anything else; indeed, any parallel is probably more to do with Nile happening to grow up in and around Manchester.

Another stand-out moment for me is Everything We Miss, a stripped down, acoustic number that underlines the quality of Man Made’s music with its simplicity and which provides a respite before launching in to the next track, Bring Some. This is propelled along on an almost military-style drum beat and a spiky vocal melody that promises to make it an excellent live track.

Indeed, the more you listen to TV Broke My Brain, the more you realise that the slightly unusual vocal melodies are a big part of Man Made’s sound: Marr will drop the tempo a little bit here, change keys there to great effect. It’s an impressive feature of the band’s music and is at its most obvious on Nobody’s Dreaming.

Although it’s kept until the second last song, the eponymous number is without doubt the definite track on the album, and not just because it gives it its name. A notably more punky affair than anything else on the album and with a clear lyrical message, it burns with intensity and packs a weighty punch in its chorus whilst retaining the intelligent musicianship which defines the album. Short, sharp and to the point, it’s a fantastic track and worthy lead single.

Man Made have perhaps taken a little longer than you’d expect to release their debut album, but it’s clearly been worth the wait to produce one as confident, refined and rich in sound and quality as TV Broke My Brain. Packed from start to finish with excellent songs, there’s a depth and variety on show that’s rare for a new band; it’s the kind of album that will leave you with a different favourite track each time you listen. With an album of this calibre, Nile Marr has staked a claim to being of the most accomplished musicians on the current music scene and along with his band, a strong contender for the best debut of the year.


Listen to Bring Some here:


One Response to “Album Review: Man Made – TV Broke My Brain”
  1. garyfeeney says:

    Reblogged this on General Smuts.


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