Man Man “On Oni Pond” Album Review

MANMAN

This is definitely the cleanest album Man Man has recorded, and it’s radio friendliness makes me think that this one might be big. The experimental rockers from Philadelphia are about to release their fifth studio album, and it’s extremely accessible to listen to, while maintaining the flavor and spirit of their older material. This is one of those bands that you must see live, anything can happen. They are an eclectic group of musicians with various instruments and toys tossed around the stage in case they feel the need to add them to the noise, often bringing the audience into it.

The first thing you notice with the new album is the cleanness of the production. This is not the ramshackle, AM radio sound of the “The Man in the Turban” from 2004. The energy and spirit are there, but it’s glossy, there is precision, and it sounds amazing on the slower, more plaintive acoustic songs, like “Deep Cover”. While the album is missing that grittiness of previous recordings, it is full of very catchy hooks and well written pop songs that are really showcased by the cleaner production. “Head On” and “Sparks” have a sweet, almost 50’s style to them, and “Pyramids” is chock full of danceable rhythms. A few of the songs are not very memorable, but it ends with a short piano piece that bookends the album nicely.

Their darkness comes out in “Loot My Body”, synthesizers and heavy drum beats balancing nicely with a light guitar riff and post apocalyptic lyrics. At times, the lead singer Honus Honus sounds like Austin loverboy Bob Schneider, particularly on “Pink Wonton”, all raspy and full of confidence and swagger. He gets his growl on strong in “King Shiv”, a dub-tinged sexy march that is a highlight of the album. All in all, I think the album is a nice balance between dark and light, and look forward to hearing these nicely produced albums get completely destroyed and put back together live.

Check them out October 10th at the Gothic, and buy your tickets early.

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