Muscles’ debut album afforded him a bundle of success in the indie-electro scene off the back of his smash single ‘Ice Cream’. Five years on, and some rather public disagreements concerning his sophomore album with record label Modular behind him, and the release of Manhood has finally arrived.

The record stays pretty true to what we have come to expect from Muscles and if you were hoping for something drastically different and groundbreaking you are unfortunately out of luck. What Muscles does deliver on Manhood however, is what fans have come to know and expect from him; well-produced, catchy electro-pop riddled with fat, squelchy synth textures and four-to-the-floor disco beats.

It seems as if Muscles has exchanged delving into new territory with his songwriting for a more focussed approach on the production of his already developed style.

The albums opener ‘Kiss Hello’ immediately sets the tone for the record with half time house beats underpinning wailing synthesized klaxon howls before shifting into soaring, break-beat driven chorus with the electro-artist questioning “are you gonna give me a kiss hello?”

Straight up 4/4 house beats continue on “Boys Become Men” and “Girl Crazy Go”, ornamented with oscillating synth blips and Muscles’ characteristic harmonised vocal languor.

As far as shortcomings go, the album does meander at times with a lack of dynamics, the similarities between many of the songs detracting from their individual merit. But this doesn’t do enough to take away from the fact that Muscles has returned with an engaging and undeniably enjoyable record, with a little bit of light and shade and ultimately; plenty to dance to.

– Morgan Benson

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