Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Semi-Classic Album of the Week #5: Man Man - "Six Demon Bag"

Man Man - Six Demon Bag (2006)

When you're a demented cabaret act it pays to know a goodly number of instruments, and to play each of them like each track is the last you'll ever record. Man Man is a five-member group who plays like fifteen, and this, their second record, is as complete and free-spirited an experience as you're likely to hear outside of one of their concerts.

Man Man plays like they're losing track of each song, carried away by inescapable momentum until they're forced to reboot with a strange transition or a thumping scream-off. Gleeful, twisted humor fills every track, as if they've bought a dozen instruments, taken the spirit of Tom Waits, lit it up and passed it around while thinking of the next trick to play on the audience.

And it's all terrific fun - some of the speedy, lively thumpers plead to be sung along with on the third listen. Early tracks "Engrish Bwudd" and "Black Mission Goggles" can't help but pulsate with their own genius, the glow of people who are having a terrific amount of fun doing what they're doing and don't much care who likes it and who doesn't.

And "Young Einstein on the Beach" is the shortest, most danceable exorcism you've ever heard, almost too heavy to be believed with no electrical guitars and no comprehensible lyrics, until you catch yourself blasting it from your car on the freeway.

But Man Man has heart to spare, and they don't spare it on Van Helsing Boombox or Skin Tension (not to mention the somber opening track), some of the most heartbreaking treatises on desire and loss you're likely to hear this side of sanity. In the nearly three years since the release of this record, Man Man has already fallen off of their creative peak, so check out Six Demon Bag and find out where it's at.

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