Man the Change shout their lyrics at the edge of hoarseness– never being too concerned whether they take on a melody or simply hang in the air. Defeated isn’t delivered as an anthemic collection of songs filled with this-towns and fuck-the-mans, it’s an album of quiet introspection delivered as loudly and cathartically as possible.
Man the Change is a fast, emotional band that plays gruff, heartfelt post-hardcore with a hint of catchiness. So, at this point we all know that means they sound like Hot Water Music and Leatherface. Defeated is appropriately filled with heavy guitars that thrash buzzsaw chords and alternately melodic leads that accent more than they lead. The drumming is versatile and powerful, equally convincing at mid-tempo as it is at blistering hardcore speed. Man the Change have a bit more of a pop punk influence than most of their peers, but it’s subtly incorporated and adds rather than subtracts from their sound. One of the best things to say about Man the Change is that they are able to so easily form a homogenous sound from so many disparate influences, with some bands there’s always a feeling of compartmentalizing, but Man the Change incorporate it all as a whole.
The first song on Defeated is “Val Killed Her,” which explores nostalgia soaked memories and longing. A melodically strong track, the song really hits its stride near the end with harmonies and blast beats abound. “Journeyman” features dual vocals that play off each other nicely, but it’s reverby bridge feels a little trite. That quiet sense of muted instrumentation combined with that slightest amount of echo is perhaps the cheapest way to synthesize intimacy in a song. It’s so obviously a stab at a let’s-get-real-here moment, even its relative briefness can’t save for its laughable inclusion. The title track is by far the best on Defeated, starting off slowly with an intertwining bass and guitar part before entering into a rousing staccato strumming pattern. “Defeated” features the strongest singing performance on the EP and its gang vocaled refrain is stunning in its blood pumping intensity.
Defeated is kind of what you’d expect to get from a band that named themselves after a Hot Water Music song. It’s aggressive, introspective, and musically interesting punk rock that is sure to please fans of the style. It doesn’t break boundaries and certainly doesn’t surpass its influences, but it’s a solid release with moments of terrific power and unquestionable musicality.