Man Man: Rabbit Habits

Man Man: Rabbit Habits

"I wanna hold you 'til the mountains turn into sand," Honus Honus croons in "Doo Right," one of the more conventionally tuneful tracks on Man Man's Rabbit Habits. In fact, the chassis is downright orthodox: Comprising an early-R&B; piano vamp and some intermittently falsetto sweetness, the song is a palate-cleanser between the disc's less tenuously sane material. Barking like a carnie, Honus and his fellow Philly madmen come off like a troupe of demented, polyglot cheerleaders—particularly for Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart, two looming influences that Man Man tries and fails to downplay. But that gruff, disjointed weirdness is just gravy; at the bottom of it all, the band constructs catchy, even soulful compositions sturdy enough to withstand frenzied self-deconstruction. Where contemporaries like Gogol Bordello and DeVotchKa keep the artiness to a manageable minimum, Man Man has more in common with the sadly overlooked, primordially eruptive Old Time Relijun—in fact, in spite of frequent dips into grating avant-goofiness, Rabbit Habits strikes a similarly winning equilibrium between quirk for quirk's sake and pure, bacchanalian abandon.

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