If you haven’t been hiding away from the world, you probably know about privilege politics in the United States. As more people learn about injustice and inequality, many folks from privileged backgrounds are faced with this personal reckoning: how can I hold myself responsible? Anguid’s January release “Man of Action” turns that question over in its metaphorical hands. The four-minute track brings a gentle awareness to the front man’s own privilege and provides a warm, easy listening experience in the meantime.
I don’t want to wait, I want to be lifted/To be polite, young, and gifted/And nothing of what I hate
Despite its tense subject matter, the soundscape of the song is bright and laid back. “Man of Action” begins with cheerful acoustic guitar strumming, which soon folds into drums. Then perky brass notes hop onto the scene and all the song’s elements slide sweetly into place. Anguid’s sonic world has long been a place of comfort, with his discography thus far offering a consistent sense of community and sociability. That communal aspect shows up in “Man of Action” through the use of choir-like harmonies and synthesizers. This is a great song to listen to with other people – in the car, in the living room, or using Spotify’s synchronous listening feature.
Of course, I would be remiss not to mention the iconic saxophone in the track. The saxophone is a consistent presence throughout, darting in and out of the track at key moments. But it truly shines toward the end of the song, when the saxophone breaks through the other instruments and launches the song into a full-on jam session.
A man of action, or man of reaction?/ How to know which is worse, both born of an evil curse.
Aidan Boardman – the one-man force behind Anguid – provides a youthful quality with his vocals in the piece. His performance is vulnerable and quiet, so it seems almost as though he doesn’t know whether he should be speaking, or as though he is trying not to speak over anyone; there’s a lovely hesitance to it which fits nicely into the discussion of privilege. The lyrics echo this uncertainty, particularly in the line “a man of action, or man of reaction?” which seems to address the popular social issue of being an active ally versus a performative or “reactive” one.
The song is not self-pitying so much as it is self-aware. It’s a nervous look in the mirror. A scrutiny of self, packaged in an accessible production style. Take, for example, the choir voices and synthesizing harmonies in the track. These voices create a delicious sonic effect with their lush, full harmonies. At the front end of the song, these vocals appear only in specific phrases in the chorus – such as the line “you’ve been a fool.” This styling gives punch to the few selected phrases. But it also creates the effect of being shouted at by a crowd of people, which aligns with the idea of social responsibility.
You’ve been a fool, making up a disease
“Man of Action” seems to address the idea of personal responsibility in an age of increasing political awareness. Anguid makes this challenging topic sonically comfortable – there’s no difficulty in listening to the song, which perhaps reflects the ease of inhabiting such a privileged space. “Man of Action” is warm, bright, and critical –a welcome voice in today’s fast-changing musical landscape.