This song appears to have been influenced by the experimental German Krautrock movement of the late 1960s and early '70s. In an interview with Drowned in Sound, the interviewer asked Jez Williams (guitarist) and his brother Andy (drums) if the band had been listened to old Krautrock records when they wrote this song. Andy replied: "Krautrock is definitely something that we all agree on, and have been fans of for a long time. I'd say Kraftwerk as well. Man Machine is one of those records that I keep going back to over and over again since I can remember."
Andy Williams told The Quietus, that this song "started life as a more rocky song and it was later on that we added those 16s on the hi-hats and it showed us a different pattern." Frontman Jimi Goodwin added: "Then we added a phase to it. Then we added the chugga chugga chugga bassline which was really staccato."
The Doves told the NME April 11, 2009: "We've always been mad into film scores, so we wanted to do a sci-fi-feeling tune and this fits the bill. Lyrically it's this Blade Runner-ish thing and you can hear bits of Kraftwerk.
Jez Williams, rather than the band's principal vocalist, Jimi Goodwin, sang this song. The band generally test all three voices before deciding which one best suits the songs, and in the case of this tune, they plumped for Jez's subtle vocals.
This song includes some unusual instrumentation. The Doves told NME: "We bought a machine from a Russian factory on eBay that used to make bullets for the metallic sound. It looks like military hardware."