MANDAUE NIGHTS’ “MAN ON THE MOON”
A Review by Erik Tuban
The second EP release from Mandaue Nights, "Man on the Moon," finds the band ditching its well-received pop sensibilities in favor of a more atmospheric, more otherworldly concept. On the new album, the duo composed of Karl Lucente and Gino Rosales takes flight, leaping into a new creative trajectory, and true to its title, exploring previously shrouded musical territories. This is a bold move for the band. By doing so, it upsets the balance of its already well-established status quo. Mandaue Nights is a synth-pop band known for its penchant for penning radio-friendly hits such as "You and I" and "First Kiss." Its newly discovered sound might not bode well with its steady fanbase. On the other hand, this is also highly liberating for the band. This proves that there is more to the artists than their catchy hooks and matching looks. That they are capable of going beyond the customary verse-chorus-verse approach to songwriting. That they are no mere flash in the pan and not afraid at all to soldier on the dreaded sophomore slump, so to speak. But let's talk about the songs on this album. We immediately notice that there's not much singing here. And if there is—it doesn't kick in until the second part of the second song, "Inside My Head"—it is pretty much an afterthought to the whole already well-developed mood of the album rather than it's driving force. "Dear Night Owls" is dense, production-wise, albeit ambling in its atmospheric cohesiveness. In my opinion, this is the part where the album climaxes and reaches its proverbial high. But the pièce de résistance of this whole undertaking is "Still" (featuring Cole Geconcillo from the post-rock group ODD), a four-minute breather where the slow motion descent from the ecstatic becomes euphoric until you are transported back to reality with the final track, aptly titled "Is It Too Real?” It's the sudden realization that time goes back to the present. It's ground control calling Major Tom. "Man on the Moon" is an oddity and slightly out of orbit from the Mandaue Nights catalog, but it's not difficult to listen to. In fact, it's strangely beautiful, like a heightened ASMR for insomniacs. So here's an appeal to both doubters and die-hard fans of the first EP: just give this one a listen. After all, what we have a lot right now is time. So why not add a little bit of space?