Review: The Decemberists' eighth album sees the Portland gang return having significantly changed tack in the four years since their last album. Working with John Congleton, producer for St. Vincent and Future Islands, the band have made their use of synthesisers and electronics a focal point on 'I'll Be Your Girl', an element that had previously stayed in the background. To accompany this change, they've shifted their songwriting towards more synth-pop territory, evident on opener 'Once In My Life', 'We All Die Young' and lead single 'Severed'. A number of tracks bear the hallmarks of The Decemberists' classic Americana sound, but the contrasts at play make 'I'll Be Your Girl' their most adventurous record to date.
Review: 'The Man-Machine' is closer to the sound and style that would define early new wave electro-pop. Less minimalistic in its arrangements and more complex and danceable in its underlying rhythms. Like its predecessor, 'Trans-Europe Express', there is the feel of a divided concept album, with some songs devoted to science fiction-esque links between humans and technology, often with electronically processed vocals ("The Robots," "Spacelab," and the title track); others take the glamour of urbanization as their subject ("Neon Lights" and "Metropolis"). Plus, there's "The Model," a character sketch that falls under the latter category but takes a more cynical view of the title character's glamorous lifestyle. More pop-oriented than any of their previous work, the sound of 'The Man-Machine' in particular among Kraftwerk's oeuvre had a tremendous impact on the cold, robotic synth pop of artists like Gary Numan, as well as Britain's later new-romantic movement.