Man Man: Dream Hunting in the Valley of the In-Between (Sub Pop) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, June 4th, 2020  

Man Man

Dream Hunting in the Valley of the In-Between

Sub Pop

May 19, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Since 2004 the collective known as Man Man have been carving out a freestyle rock niche by karate chopping their way through rock ‘n’ roll history, sending pieces of the various genres flying in all directions, then randomly picking them up and forcing them together with vim and vigor and a tuneful ear as catalysts, creating a demented musical funhouse in the process. If anyone remembers Danny Elfman’s troupe The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo they will have some idea as to what Man Man are up to.    

Tribal drum beats, New Orleans funeral dirges, Middle Eastern inflections segueing into slick spaghetti western soundtracks with a twist of swing and a dash of rock. This is the wild, wonderful, and wacky world of Man Man we’ve come to expect.

For the last two albums, 2011’s Life Fantastic and 2013’s On Oni Pond, Honus Honus (aka Ryan Kattner), the primary force behind Man Man, traded in the cacophony and mania of earlier releases for more subdued pop smarts. Now it seems he’s settled into a comfortable groove. The 17 songs on Dream Hunting in the Valley of the In-Between are not nearly as demented and frantic as sophomore album Six Demon Bag nor quite as pop-oriented as On Oni Pond, rather most land somewhere in between while maintaining elements of both.

A handful of tracks on Dream Hunting are woven with complex song structures, oddball percussive textures, and bursts of energetic and tight instrumental riffs. Others employ catchy keyboard melodies with intricate guitar and horn interplay and are held together with gusto and thunderous vocal stylings. Some do well to slow the pace and act as a warped mood swing. These techniques work best on standout tracks such as “Cloud Nein,” “On the Mend,” “Goat,” and “Animal Attraction.”

But just like the miasma of a carnival funhouse Man Man sometimes find it difficult to get out of their own way and have trouble navigating through it all. A few songs get bogged down with less of what makes Man Man so appealing and are missing that intangible ingredient, creating an uneven album that is somewhat erratic and inconsistent. Unkempt but heartfelt, Dream Hunting in the Valley of the In-Between is ultimately an enjoyable record from a unique band. (www.manmanband.com)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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