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Album Review: Man Man – On Oni Pond

3 min read

Experimental rock, it’s not for everyone, and even those who like experimental rock don’t like all of it – but I’ve got to say that Man Man, who really put a lot of emphasis on the alternative side of their rock, are very enjoyable. Man Man jumped onto the American experimental rock scene with a bang, their album The Man In A  Blue Turban With A Face setting the tone for things to come.

What was to come, as their fifth studio album, was On Oni Pond. The album opens up with short but beautiful instrumental introduction titled Oni Swan, letting you know straight away that this is no regular album that you’re listening to.

ManManOnOniPondOni Swan transitions smoothly into the second track, Pink Wonton. Pink Wonton is an interesting track, featuring a wide range of alternate instrumentation – including various brass instruments and an organ. This track has a feeling that is quite easily comparable to some ska songs, at least with the way of the use of instrumentation and some of the vocals.

Track Five, King Shiv, carries on with the theme of constantly changing genres in the album and moves onto having a strong Reggae back beat and instrumental groove. End Boss is very clever in the way that it makes you sway like a chilled out reggae song, and yet the vocals – which occasionally sound almost like rap rock – work perfectly with the overall feeling of the song.

On Oni River really doesn’t like to stick with genre, you can really notice this by the time you’re at the seventh track of the album – which opens up with a gently strumming ukulele and some pleasantly relaxed but melancholic vocals, and pretty much sticks with that throughout the whole track. On a few occasions you get some bass and the odd bit of electric guitar, and of course some horns. But other than that, the ukulele really remains the key aspect of the song that is Deep Cover.

What alternate rock album wouldn’t be complete without a haunting, heavily percussion based song? Fangs has a tremendously appealing groove behind it, the percussion driving the track the whole way through – and providing a very unique base aspect to the song. This track only gets more interesting with the peculiar guitar lines, dramatic bass parts for beat emphasis and dark vocals that tell a story throughout the song.

After a brief piano and vocal interlude titled Curtains we find ourselves at the last track of the album, Born Tight. When it comes to the constantly changing genres of On Oni River, Born Tight doesn’t disappoint. The song is a cheery piano, guitar and drums based rock song. But steers away from sounding just like a cheery rock song by really giving it the Man Man twist by adding in some funky vocals, crazy bass-lines and a general indescribable alternate rock feeling.

On Oni River has something for just about everyone, whether you’re a fan of rock; reggae; ska or even jazz, this album will have at least one track that suits you with it’s eclectic mixture of songs that put the experimental twist on well known genres. I would only say that this album has nothing for you if you’re only a listener of the basic charts music – as Man Man seem to steer clear of only one style of music, and that is charts pop.

Buy ‘Man Man – On Oni Pond’ from Amazon

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