Review: Thao & the Get Down Stay Down - A Man Alive

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down: A Man Alive

San Francisco-based Thao & the Get Down Stay Down's fourth studio album, A Man Alive, released today on Ribbon Music, is not a step uncomfortably far from the band's previous album We The Common, yet it explores a new side of Thao & the Get Down Stay Down. A Man Alive is upbeat and vibrant, while still dipping into darker themes. It exudes newfound confidence that turns even the heavier topics into energetic, danceable summer anthems.

Indeed, the album is a summer album in its simplicity – it does not provide much to discover after the first few listens. While this is a criticism, hearing alternative bands settle for something light, rather than forcefully attempting to become more and more multi-dimensional with every new release, is a welcome change. A Man Alive feels secure in its catchy loops and bass lines: every track fits the album perfectly and builds up to a work that feels complete, making it Thao & the Get Down Stay Down's strongest album to date.

While there is a certain lack of surprise across the record as a whole, the songs don't lump together and there are clear standout tracks. The first one is already the album opener, 'Astonished Man', which ranges from Björk-esque ambience in the verses to a typically poppy chorus.

The more fragile 'Millionaire' brings out the best in Nguyen's vocals, and 'Nobody Dies', on the other hand, comprises cheerful clapping and rocky electric guitars – a combination that makes it the catchiest track on the album. Guaranteed to get stuck in your head, it however risks becoming annoying very quickly: neither the track nor the album can afford to take much wear and tear.

A confident and powerful album written with a clear vision, A Man Alive is refreshingly reminiscent of the early 2000s. As Thao & the Get Down Stay Down's best work yet, we are left waiting for their next move.