What a boring album. This is not the goofy, carnivalesque Man Man of "The Man in a Blue Turban with a Face" and "Six Demon Bag." Somehow, this band has managed to change itself from one of the most unhinged, fun, ridiculous rock bands into a completely anonymous indie band.
One of the biggest problems is that former Captain Beefheart-like Honus Honus, whose voice is now really toned down, sounds so similar from song to song that he's hard to even pay attention to. He sounds like Britt Daniel of Spoon or that guy from Jet and that is not a compliment.
Sure, there are signs of life and silly moments - like the classical/reggae mash of "King Shiv." But the album is filled predominantly with indiscriminate tunes like "Pink Wonton" and "Head On." Honus sings, "Hold onto your heart/ Never let nobody take it over." Really? And this is from the same band that sang, "Fee fi fo fum/ (I smell the blood of an Englishman)"?
Man Man’s new album is ‘On Oni Pond.’
Ballads like the ukulele ditty "Deep Cover" just sound plain cheesy and again, the singularity of sound and the lack of experimental elements from a band that used to thrive off experimentation is disheartening.
You know that really cool friend you had as a child? That one wild child that showed you all the deserted, dangerous places to hang out and made you second-guess listening to your parents? That person that took you up on the roof to see over the city, that person that took you under the bridge to see the graffiti, that person that you ran through the woods with finding all kinds of weird creatures? Remember when that person became a boring adult that just started complaining about bills? Yeah, this feels kind of like that.
It's not that this stuff is incompetent. "Pyramids" is a very well-made, pseudo-classic rock tune and I can imagine a lot of people rocking out to it. Heck, I was even getting into it a little bit, but I don't come to Man Man for the perfect Can sound (Can, the amazing German experimental rock band from the '70s that every indie band wants to be), I come to them for foot-stomping nonsense and this album is sorely lacking that. These guys are listening to too much Deerhunter and Antlers and not enough Frank Zappa.
I spent the entire album rolling my eyes and sighing. The band described this album as an organic reboot. Well, if this is the new sound, then I'm out.
DOWNLOAD: "Born Tight." At least it's got a good hook and it hints at the kinds of shenanigans the band is known for. But, really, if you've never listened to this band, search for "Engrish Bwudd" on YouTube - it's inspired wackiness from a great band. Don't start with "On Oni Pond."