A Different Man is perhaps the most Byrds-ian jangle song The Church has ever done. This label defines much of the early phase of the band, although I can´t say there has really been that many songs that could be defined mostly with a term jangle. Bel-Air, Almost With You, Just For You, To Be In Your Eyes (with some stretch of imagination) and A Different Man. That´s a handful of songs in 3 albums. In all of these songs jangle is only one building block of the song and the band is never satisfied to do anything that stays within one genre and is too predictable and obvious. Like this song here, which I feel was left out of The Blurred crusade for being too obvious (which might not be true).
The first 1:30 goes it´s jangly ways but then it slowly builds to ominous heights with goth choirs, bells, guitar solos and keyboards. The mood of the song is quite different in the end than what it is in the start. They can´t even contain their inspirations within one song but it seems the ideas are bursting so much that even one song is not enough to contain them all. In the end they sound just like themselves. It may be repeated and repeated in these reviews but it´s a fact. They sound like a lot of things but most of all themselves.
At first glance the song is quite simple but there is actully lot more going on than is seen at first. It´s a small pop symphony all packed to compact 3:17. That´s the point that the band makes over and over again. They can never be satisfied to churn out predictable ordinary stuff and albums filled with same kind of songs. Many of the other bands of the same era with same kind of inspirations were happy to do 10-song albums, where you, the listener, knew exactly what was going to happen during the whole album after hearing 1,5 songs. That´s how most of the bands operate at any genre. With The Church that is never a problem.
The lyrics are a mirror of that part of SK, where you never know what to expect:
It was a different man, you know he's never been here
You can be so close, you can be so near
It was a different man, playing different cards
You can be so soft, you can be so hard
It´s as if SK is ready to define himself and the direction that will be taken. At the same time he is not ready to define anything and is still comfortable to hide in the shadows whenever it pleases him. Never here - so close, so near. So soft, so hard. Those are like definitions of the whole music here. It´s a wonderfully sunny song yet there is a cold under current. It´s optimistic yet it has an obvious pessimistic side too. Like most of the other songs the band has done it can be enjoyed at almost any mood. Even at their most sunniest moments they still have the dark shadows lurking at the corners.