Philadelphia experimentalists Man Man have been best known for the unconventional since their founding in 2004. Their fifth studio album, On Oni Pond, is easily among some of their best work to date, and sets itself as a tough act to follow.
“Oni Swan” opens up with a gorgeous and melodic multi-instrumental tune, reminiscent of Modest Mouse’s “Horn Intro” on Good News For People Who Like Bad News. Coupled with “Pink Wonton,” the opening begins the record the way any good production would: coming in fast, drawing in the listener, and presenting the most infectious hooks to hold that attention firmly.
In true fashion, the complex arrangement and wide array of instruments used in the work of Man Man makes the album. Songs like “King Shiv” and “Loot My Body” just wouldn’t have the same enthusiasm and life to them without it. Along with Honus Honus’ lyrical work, the release manages to keep that spirited electronica-esque vibe without losing its strong integrity.
By On Oni Pond’s conclusion, you get a rare taste of minimalism with the interlude “Curtains.” The one-minute track precedes the finale, “Born Tight,” and features only the haunting voice of the lead singer and a piano. Considering that Man Man decided to go out with a proverbial bang, and finish with as much energy and complexity that it began with, it’s a welcome change of pace for the moment.
The amount of excitement that this release invokes is hard to convey with words while still doing it justice. Man Man is the kind of group whose work speaks for itself, and this is most definitely the case with their latest. On Oni Pond is a high point in the band’s career, and is truly an impressive piece of art and entertainment.