You know, when I wrote about this band before, I compared them to China Crisis. I realize now that that comparison could be a dangerous one if someone read it and went out and got any China Crisis album that wasn't Flaunt the Imperfection (1985). Sure, there are moments on the self-titled debut from Silver Spring's Today's Man that sound like that band but they also have a more expansive sound. If anything, a better comparison would be 1993's Songs of Faith and Devotion from Depeche Mode. On that album, the Mode added a streak of bold emotion to their signature electronic style and ended up producing something that seemed all the more human. Today's Man are mining a similar vein of music.
On Today's Man, out now on Chateau Hits, Edmund Douglass and Neal Hoage have crafted 8 tunes that echo the best risk-takers from earlier waves of alternative music -- think Talk Talk's leap from their early stuff to what they sounded like on Spirit of Eden (1988).
The press material for this band name-drops Tears for Fears and there's a bit of them here -- "The New Unknown" wouldn't have sounded too out of place on Songs from the Big Chair -- and there's another mention made of Peter Gabriel -- "Dissolved in Blue" is like something off one of those early, good Gabriel solo records before he got too popular -- but, really, Today's Man have a unique sound. If "Coming 'Round" sounds slightly like Shriekback or even Killing Joke, that's fine and good but the cut is also something else entirely -- a weird mix of very warm vocals and layered textures and keyboards.
And if I tell you that the harder "New Age Defector" sounds like some odd collaboration from 1986 label-mates Psychedelic Furs and Wire Train, you'd think I was crazily reaching for comparisons but it's not quite so easy to pigeon-hole these Today's Man cats. And that's a great thing.
While there are bits and pieces here that will fit an old new wave fan like a glove -- or skinny tie, as the case may be -- it's apparent that Today's Man thought long and hard about their style and presentation long before they committed themselves on the path to making this record. Seemingly fully-formed and of a whole, Today's Man is a remarkably strong album.
Fans of The Killers, New Order, OMD, and Depeche Mode would be well advised to seek out Today's Man. I can't wait to see what they unveil next. Discovering this band has been one of my most pleasant surprises as a blogger this fall/winter.