Philadelphia band Man Man are inspired by Lord of the Flies, boar hunting expeditions, being broke, Kung Fu, sex and mistakes. Their fourth album, Life Fantastic, distills these diverse influences into eleven exuberant tracks, wrapped up in packaging that features skulls, girls, eagles and sculpted rats. The band combines instruments such as piano, euphonium and marimba, and genres such as ska, pop, psychedelic rock and folk, to create an original sound that is at once fun, scary and endearing.
Knuckle Down kicks the album off in typical Man Man style. It’s aggressive, hilarious and deranged. Next track Piranhas Club, which features the catchy chorus “if you gotta smash some plates to relax I say do it, do-do-do-do-do it” is as poppy as a children’s song. With Honus Honus’ raspy vocals and devolving piano, it sounds like The Brunettes doing a guest spot in Hell. The track concludes with the repeated refrain “I don’t wanna be the stranger in your living room, I just wanna be the man you bring home again”.
Man Man lulls you into a false sense of security with Steak Knives, a sweet and serious track with emotional violin and female backing vocals, before making your ear drums bleed with the psychotic synchronized screaming on Dark Arts.
The band takes a detour into indie folk rock with Shameless. About love and self-loathing, it features tortured lyrics including “I’m a wrecking ball and I’m wrecking all that I’m touching”, and “I want you so bad I can’t stand the man that I am”.
On Life Fantastic Man Man combine their mind-bending music with rich lyrics to provide an alternative take on love and heartbreak. Exhilarating, darkly romantic and terrifying: a unique masterpiece.
Kathryn van Beek
Click here to listen to Piranhas Club from Life Fantastic: