There’s a hint of sarcasm in the title of Life Fantastic, the fourth full-length by Philadelphia art-rock polymorph Man Man. In a literal sense, the album is as stuffed with sounds and images as 2008’s Rabbit Habits. But there are also plenty of indicators that leader Ryan “Honus Honus” Kattner hasn’t been finding life all that fantastic lately. In spite of its slaphappy, Zappa-like vibe, “Piranhas Club” bristles with giddily bloodthirsty revenge scenarios; on “Shameless,” Kattner solicits drug-induced release—euphoria or euthanasia, it’s unclear—from his doctor after delivering the self-diagnosis, “I’m a wrecking ball / And I’m breaking all that I’m touching.” The album hosts plenty of Man Man’s patented carnival-esque light-tripping, though, including the gruff, piano-propelled “Knuckle Down” and even the 8-bit exotica of “Eel Bros.” Overall, though, its light-tripping dims during its second half, ending with the ghostly jazz-folk coda of “Oh, La Brea.” Kattner and crew aren’t in full party mode on Life Fantastic, but if that points toward a more introspective, if no less chaotic, future for Man Man, that might be a good thing.
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