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Man Man:: Rabbit Habbits (Album Review)

Philadelphia’s Man Man might get more credit for its considerable talents if the band didn’t seem so hellbent on distracting people from them. There’s the matching white athletic gear and war paint on stage, the pseudonyms (Sergei Sogay) and magnetic-poetry-of-the-damned song titles (“Easy Eats or Dirty Doctor Galapagos”), the Civil War-era facial hair. And there’s the aesthetic free-for-all of the music, in which the band uses its instrumental prowess to mash together everything from doo-wop to noise rock to cabaret jazz, like a hyperactive kid trying to squeeze five different colors of Play-Doh through his parents’ high-end pasta maker. All of which is plenty entertaining, but you get the feeling that singer Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner) and his hirsute comrades are afraid that if they let up on the noise too long, someone might realize that the songs beneath it are really, really good. On “Rabbit Habbits,” the band’s third album, Man Man is clearly having trouble keeping up the ruse. The exhumed-vaudevillian theatrics are still here, but by now they’re starting to sound almost natural and when the perpetually heartbroken Honus Honus laments, “I can’t breathe underwater like I used to before I met you,” you get the idea.
[Charles Homans]