City of Satellites

Machine Is My Animal

by Dominic Umile

25 April 2010

cover art

City of Satellites

Machine Is My Animal

(Hidden Shoal)
US: 1 Nov 2009
UK: 26 Jan 2010

Rife with synthesizer tones and reverb trails that conjure a smothering, saccharine effect, everything on Machine Is My Animal was shot in soft focus. Dream pop act City of Satellites looks to 4AD or Creation for cues on how to engineer its sound, and while nods to the Cocteau Twins can and have been reverently carried-out by M83, Machine Is My Animal is little more than a reproduction. No snares on City’s first full-length album are without a strong dose of gated reverb, and no guitar seems to have been plugged directly into an amp head before passing through at least a chorus and flanger pedal. All of this attention to gloss hurts the duo’s palpable arrangement know-how. Lacking context, for example, “Skeletons” calls for hallucinatory video accompaniment (a dark beach, perhaps a unicorn)—its soft rock sheen echoes the overproduced artifice of early ‘90s Top 40 radio hits, rather than the pioneering LPs issued by indie imprints. Heavily treated vocals from South Australia’s Jarrod Manuel are weightless atop the album closer’s keyboard squiggles and long-disintegrating cymbals, where just above a whisper he asks “What did you see, Sky Rider?” More than likely, it was a set of songs that are a little too clean for their own good.

Machine Is My Animal



We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.


//Mixed media

20 Questions: Nashville Singer-Songwriter Natalie Hemby

// Sound Affects

"Natalie Hemby's Puxico is a standout debut from a songwriter who has been behind the scenes for over a decade.

READ the article