While that album showed Sherwood and Ellis's respective merits, it fell short on delivering something truly synergetic. If Late Night Endless was the sound of the pair sounding comfortable, their latest full-length, Man Vs. Sofa attempts to upset the balance. It does so with mixed results. There's Pinch's Swamp 81 hit "Retribution," which is given a digi-dub overhaul in the opening bars. Luscious and detailed, it morphs into an astringent and industrious broken techno romp. This one plays to Sherwood and Ellis's strengths, and it's one of the album's highlights. The dubious dubstep fix of Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence" is not.
The pianos on tracks like "Itchy Face" and "Charger"—the handiwork of Primal Scream's Martin Duffy—lift Man Vs. Sofa out of the duo's comfort zone. "Itchy Face" is built around a soaring rush of percussion, powered by cymbals and drums. "Charger" is a more textural composition full of unusual sound sources. In each case, Duffy's melodies offer something that, positioned at a distance from the other elements, enhances those tracks. Sherwood & Pinch are a highly compatible team, but on occasion their individual qualities shine through. This is particularly noticeable on the album's two vocal tracks: the uplifting "Lies," featuring Lee 'Scratch' Perry, is very Sherwood, and the Taz-assisted dread bass of "Gun Law" feels like a Pinch track. Hearing producers as accomplished as Ellis or Sherwood steal the spotlight from time to time makes Man Vs. Sofa all the more appealing.