Capsule Review: Man Man

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April 16, 2008

8:16 PM

Man Man comes crashing through windows, holding microphones up to dogs’ lips in tubs and shooting off fireworks in the streets on its latest release “Rabbit Habits.” It is twitchy and raw and perfect for creating summertime bursts of energy. Even amidst this chaos, the album manages to be more accessible than both of the group’s previous releases.

For those unfamiliar with Man Man, imagine Alice Cooper and Glen Danzig jamming in the middle of a Ringling Brothers. trapeze act. They will throw whatever they can at listeners, be it noisy rock or mellow instrumental passages, in order to entertain. “Rabbit Habits” targets the adventurous listener with its bevy of delivery styles, from piano-accompanied ballads to fuzzy guitars and multimember vocal segments set to old-timey trumpets. And to this end, it is quite entertaining — a panoramic of the schizophrenic youth culture.

It would not be outrageous to think of “Rabbit Habits” as the contemporary indie-rock analogue of early ’70s punk. Songs like “The Ballad of Butter Beans” convey a frantic-yet-playful spirit that does its own thing, unafraid of confusing a few folks along the way. Looney Tunes-esque xylophone runs? Check. Lyrics that skip from “shoes shines” to meditations on death and eating? Check. The group’s wide-open attitude could teach a few punk bands a lesson. They do what they want and still manage a sense of cohesion.

And that’s what Man Man has always been about: a unified sense of chaos, bundled up in instrumental experiments in the name of refreshment and fun. “Rabbit Habits” takes Man Man a few steps toward accessibility, which will net them some new listeners. But if you already know you like your music on the atypical side, grab this album and have some fun.

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