Man Man

Life Fantastic

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

For their fourth full-length, Man Man recorded in Omaha with producer Mike Mogis (the house engineer for Saddle Creek). His input makes a big difference as he fine-tunes the songs on Life Fantastic, and tones down the disorder to create a more open, pop-friendly album than previous outings. The Man in a Blue Turban with a Face and Six Demon Bag showcased Ryan Kattner’s talent for composing rock songs out of vaudeville chaos. Rabbit Habits found the group trying to smooth the edges. Likewise, Life Fantastic doesn’t skimp on bizarre instrumentation, but the extra production polish gives the band a new life, and with the fat trimmed there is a greater sense of focus. “Knuckle Down” starts the show in a hyperactive keyboard groove with Kattner's gruff voice accented by xylophone licks, horn hits, and shouts. Alternately, “Steak Knives” is a minor-key acoustic waltz with some sparse orchestration, courtesy of a small string section. A nice sense of push and pull is achieved between the easy melodies and tricky musicianship. While there are definite left-field aspects to Life Fantastic, fans of crossover-indie rock groups like Modest Mouse and Spoon should be able to get behind the angular pop of “Shameless” or the backwater bluegrass-rock of “Life Fantastic.”

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