What’s a man, anyway? It’s a question at the center of Andy Cook’s new EP, Modern Man—a 22-minute indie rock ride that hints at nostalgia with jangly guitars, articulate synth lines, and driving percussion, all as a vehicle for digging into life in this hyper-digital age. Produced by Jeremy Ylvisaker (HALEY, Alpha Consumer, Andrew Bird) and recorded live to tape at Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, Modern Man follows on Cook’s In Space EP (2017) and pulls on a range of influences including 60’s surf, 80’s pop and contemporary indie rock.
As it looks back musically, Modern Man takes a hard look at the present in its lyric-driven, sonically-rich landscape. “We’re living in a wicked world, where nobody believes anything they’ve heard…just a picture of a pretty face, with lonely eyes and a made-up grace,” we hear over a bouncing guitar line in the lead track "Swirl"—a song reminiscent of Real Estate or Kurt Vile, and that oscillates between pessimism of social media-curated life, and optimism that we can be happy in our own shoes.
These observations are less criticism than they are experience, from the point of view of an artist who is finding his own voice and a comfort in presenting this music without trying to be something he’s not. Cook has long felt like someone who almost fits in, but not quite—stuck between who he wants to be, the pressures and images surrounding us daily, and the desire to be “in” while still being individual.
“These songs might mean something totally different to listeners than they do to me - but they mean something, and that’s what matters most,” Cook says. In this way, Modern Man is at once personal and made for peers in modern society. “I’m writing about experiences we live everyday. There’s a kid inside of us and a mirror in front, and we need to ask them both questions if we’re going to figure out who we want to be.” After all, what’s a man, anyway?