Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Album review: Man Man - On Oni Pond

Man Man are nothing if not adventurous. Over the course of their ten year career the Philadelphia-based beat-freaks have proved little extends beyond their musical reach, consistently producing records which underline the quintet’s frenetic experimental tendencies, while displaying an impressive insight into matters of the soul.

For album number five, Ryan Kattner (also known as Honus Honus, Man Man’s piano-tinkling frontman) has reinstated the melancholic undertones that permeated 2010’s Life Fantastic. But, musically, On Oni Pond has a greater energy than its predecessor, focusing more on the possibilities of life than the final flag of death.

What ensues is a record awash with eclecticism. Tonally, it covers an extraordinary distance across the space of 13 tracks: from the brass-swelling bar brawl of “Loot My Body”, to the angular funk guitars of “Pyramids” and onwards to the bare bone declaration of “Deep Cover”.

At all times, Kattner’s gravelled croon leads the sonic concoction. His deep, gut-churning grunt rumbles through moribund haze of “Head On” with Tom Waits-like wisdom, while his sneering parables transcend the funk-stained guitars of “Paul’s Grotesque” into a lecherous slab of choleric psych-rock.

As aurally impressive and immaculately produced as you’d expect, these 45 minutes do much to surmise Man Man’s career to date. Sure, it treads little new ground, but this is a band that’s done more than enough boundary pushing in its lifetime to earn a little slack. Sometimes, even the most adventurous souls need to take it a little easy.

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