Experimental, Philly-based rock group, Man Man, brings out yet another soulful and eccentric delivery on their 5th studio album, On Oni Pond. Their previous album Six Demon Bag was filled with piano-banging melodies, making one feel like they should be drinking pints with burly men in a cave somewhere in the depths of a forest. Their newest album, On Oni Pond, brings you something quite different.
As much as I try to avoid using the adjective ‘mature’ to describe an album, it really is one of the first things that came to mind. It is not the type of mature when trying to pinpoint the correct term for an artist’s album that has lost its identity. It hones in an approachable maturity. Their 4th album, Life Fantastic, contains more of a poppy sound than any of their previous albums. That sound carried through to On Oni Pond with an aim for a broader appeal. It has a sense of accessibility in that a handful of the songs are indie station worthy. While this is a new sound for Man Man, they did a great job in balancing this freshness without losing any of their unique quirks we are familiar with.
Being such a multi-layered album, it takes a few listens in order to pick apart the depth and fullness of each tier. The first single, “Head On”, has a sweet, stringy melody, which makes you light-heartedly bob your head to the chorus: “Hold onto your heart/ Never let nobody take it over.” But just under the surface, Honus Honus’ suspenseful, dark trademark lyrics gleam through: “The life you have led / That is always a mess / Are you dreaming of death? / Are there ghosts in your chest?” Man Man did a great job being catchy and endearing while masking their eerie, perverse lyricism. The album takes you down the road of cultivation and it is apparent that no matter what Man Man does, it always seems to make sense.
Reviewed by Darby Drupe