Man Man - Rabbit Habits (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Man Man

Rabbit Habits (2008)


Forays into absurdist music can be frightening, jarring, unappealing and disturbing. Or they can be eye-opening, evangelical experiences. Mitch Hedberg said it best when talking about his death metal band: "People either loved us or hated us. Or they thought we were okay." Bands like Man Man can be polarizing to the average music fan, inspiring fierce loyalism or general distaste. Or they might just not even hit the register and render the listener to be so far removed from what they're attempting that the listener's brain refuses to form an opinion about them.

Which is how Six Demon Bag hit me.

The group has seemed to abandon their Tom Waits lite approach, instead embracing other forms of absurdist/eclectic inspirations. "Mister Jung Stuffed" comes off with a furious clicking behind it like a movie projector idly running in the background. "Hurly/Burly" employs a train whistle harmonica prominently as percussion over a heavy bass and piano groove before moving into some interesting syncopated riff trading. A fantastic track. Only fitting that "Doo Right" is a straight-up doo-wop piano ballad. The standard carnival jam formula of their last release can be applied to "The Ballad of Butter Beans," "Big Trouble" and "Easy Eats or Dirty Dr. Galapagos." Etcetera.

But while it'd be easy to refer each song to an accompanying genre/inspiration, the bird's eye view of the album shows ultimately some variation to the tempo, style and arrangements. Offering up some variety is what truly makes a release like this stand out and become memorable. Just like how listening to the time signature changes in a Lords album is the only way to get your bearings while listening to the album, the slight change for Man Man offers a world of depth.

That being said, there's a time and place for everything, and there won't always be a time and place to listen to this album. Their wacky approach and inaccessible image hasn't held them back from winning front page promotional spots for MySpace or making their way onto the soundtrack for popular urban apparel stores. While I see little crossover success for the group, it's hard to deny a well-put together album that displays both effort, cunning, musicality, and humor. Well played, Man Man. Well played.