Man Man – On Oni Pond Album Review

Man Man recently released their newest album, On Oni Pond. The record is a wonderful mix of world influences, sexy vocals and brilliantly crafted songs that everyone will fall in love with.

And this seems to be the case. Man Man have received more praise for their newest release than they ever have for previous releases.

In a recent Rolling Stone profile, album producer Mike Mogis tells how he noticed frontman Ryan Kattner’s musical growth and artistic determination while making On Oni Pond: “Kattner dialed in his lyrics, honed his vocal takes and created space in their songs for hooks to shine through.”

Man Man On Oni Pond

Man Man On Oni Pond album artwork

On Oni Pond features an arresting reconstruction of Man Man’s visionary sound – stripped to its core and rebuilt as something new and compelling yet still very much Man Man. This marked shift is a direct result of an intensive collaboration between the band’s frontman, Honus Honus (Kattner) and drummer Pow Pow, who has assumed a new-found prominence in the song writing process, bringing an exhilarating array of new rhythmic ideas to the mix. The compositions were further honed by the band members along with producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, First Aid Kit) into a compelling mash-up of Fear Of Music era Talking Heads, classic soul, psychedelia, hip hop and 50’s rock and roll.

Kattner’s vocals are husky and sexy sounding at times like Rob Thomas has stolen the microphone from him. Man Man’s music is an explosion of colour and vibrancy. They take world influences like in the tracks End Boss, Head On and King Shiv and slot them into their eclectic sound with perfect simplicity. Man Man are definitely a band that can lift your mood within a second of listening to their music.

But On Oni Pond doesn’t just contain upbeat numbers like Pink Wonton, King Shiv and Pyramids with their catchy rhythms and danceable beats, there are some more serious and solemn songs that make their appearance on this record. Deep Cover is a superbly written song with the lyrics, “Deep cover/Is not a place/It’s a state of mind/Have your heart go incognito/And hide away for a while…” sung over a simple Ukele chord sequence. Fangs spices things up again with its eerie beginning and stand alone drum beat before Kattner’s vocals come in. It has a different sound to that of the other songs on the record – it’s solemn like Deep Cover but it showcases a darker, more sinister side to the band. There’s less of the happy, chirpy beats and lyrics in Fangs and more of a sombre tone and disturbing lyrics, “Raised and braced on mysticism/Like Jesus’ flesh/A cataclysmic punishment for following the hunger pleasure creates…”

Curtains is in a world of its own, miles away from any of the other tracks on On Oni Pond. It’s like an old jazz record which is marvellous to hear on such an eclectic record. The piano sets the scene while Kattner’s vocals introduce the Jeeves and Wooster feel. It’s definitely something you can imagine Hugh Laurie singing as Wooster. It’s a short and simple yet quirky number that is a breath of fresh air to hear after all the other explosive tracks.

On Oni Pond is a favourite album this year – there is literally a song for everyone. Man Man have drawn from a huge pond of influences to make this record. They are defying genres. On Oni Pond is simply outstanding.

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