Back in September, Man Man released their 5th studio album, “On Oni Pond.” It was only recently that this reviewer discovered the band and the album. The question of, “What do you get when a hard-to-define band releases a hard-to-describe album?” arose early on in the review process. The answer is still in the ether, but one thing is for certain; the product is something that all music fans will enjoy.
Man Man has a Modest Mouse sound, but constantly dabbles in the sensibilities of the oldies of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. Because of that, “On Oni Pond” has this amazing sound that seems progressive, yet pays respect to music history. “Pink Wonton” is an amazing ska-like track with the organ and horns. Then you have “Head On” and “Sparks,” which have a doo wop vibe that makes this music nerd elated! Lastly, “Curtains” sounds like it came right out of the ragtime era.
Another great aspect of this album is the imagery. Man Man uses their lyrics to create a story in every song. The line from “Pink Wonton” stating, “Waterboard me with ‘Call Me Maybe’ / looping on an endless repeat / ain’t got nothing on the kiss you gave me / so cruel so sweet,” is great on multiple levels. “Fangs” is another song packed with imagery. One verse reads, “When she was young, she held a fantasy / of being the female Steve McQueen / careening an ancient motorcycle / through the throngs of those she hates.” It’s damn near impossible to hate a song with lyrics like that.
“On Oni Pond” may be all over the place in terms of genre. It jumps between differing sounds from start to finish, but it is an album that works perfectly both musically and lyrically.
Man Man ‘On Oni Pond’ Rating: W W W W W