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Rabbit Habits – Man Man

By Aidan Roberts

When asked what hip Philadelphia outfit Man Man sound like, it’s hard to pin down an appropriate familiarism. Listening through their latest record Rabbit Habits carries the impression of hearing the emphatic squawking of Mick Jagger if he were trapped in a musical bordello. Cool and adventurous, the canon of songs herein are littered with manic gypsy swagger; opener Mister Jung Stuffed sets the tone with its swaying percussion and excitable harmonizing, followed by a strangely Beatle-esque and dark party number Hurly Burly. It really does feel as though some repressed spirit has been let loose through the songwriting and performance, wheeling and turning its way through the material. The Ballad of Butter Beans is primal and unstable, frantic marimbas noodling their way around the arc of main man Honus Honus’s kinked narratives. You can hear the spirit of Tom Waits in sea-sick singalong Big Trouble, and a surprisingly charming, Goffin/King-style ditty in Doo Right. Listen out in particular for the hilarious, startling Harpoon Fever, which pincushions this record’s spirit and feverish abandon. Probably the most exciting thing about this record is the musicianship on display; at times the brass and tuned percussion arrangements, human harmonies and neanderthal rock ‘n’ roll rhythm playing are nothing short of breathtaking, and reveal a commitment to material that, despite its freewheeling energy, is as detailed and focused as a symphony. Man Man! What fun! (Aiden Roberts)