Experimental rock, over the course of its history, has grown and has been molded to describe a wide variety of bands and sounds. However, Man Man seems to collect all of these sounds into their own albums, especially in On Oni Pond. The band consists of Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner) on vocals, piano, and organ, Pow Pow (Christopher Powell) on percussion and programming, Brown Sugar (Adam Schatz) on DiPinto guitar, trumpet and percussion, and Shono (Bryan Murphy) on DiPinto bass, malletKAT, saxophone, and keyboards. In their previous 2011 album, Life Fantastic, Man Man took a more melancholic approach on their sound, but this follow-up shows that they can bounce back to their eccentric sound, even if it is more refined than previous albums.
On Oni Pond‘s lyrics are clever and shifts from the themes of Life Fantastic. Notably, their single, “Head On” is one of the catchier songs on this record and yet, it still has somewhat of a dark theme to it. Honus seems to roll the lyrics off his tongue while keeping a sort of intensity to it. However, this vocal delivery makes On Oni Pond feels more like a dance album, unlike their previous releases.
To date, On Oni Pond is probably Man Man’s most melodic release as they move toward a poppier sound. Man Man explores this new sound of theirs and gives indie pop a new sort of sound as they add their own elements to On Oni Pond. Throughout the album, Honus leaves breaks in his vocals, giving the hooks the ability to excel. Working once more with producer and multi-instrumentalist, Mike Mogis, Man Man’s instrumentation seem to be more cohesive rather than disjointed, much like their previous albums.
This new sense of maturity for Man Man in On Oni Pond allows the band to be more approachable while never straying from their typical sound. This new music allows Man Man to explore without ever completely reinventing themselves.