The One Where Man Man Got a Producer 

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Man Man
Life Fantastic

(Anti-)

Writing about a Man Man album is necessarily an activity fraught with problems. To speak solely about the band's recorded music is to ignore all the poignancy and stomp of the total, cracked-out Man Man experience—the violent joy of being thrashed to pieces at their live shows and the ecstasy of seeing grown men in tighty-whiteys and neon headbands work into a frenzy of primal screams. But this album is an important one for Man Man. It's the first time they've worked with an outside producer—the band spent three months in Omaha recording with Mike Mogis, of Bright Eyes and Monsters of Folk fame.

Life Fantastic sounds less impulsive and more deliberate than their previous records. There are more clean and isolated instrumental breaks, and the stripped-down third track, "Steak Knives," is probably the closest lead singer Honus Honus will ever get to one-man-and-a-guitar. The title-track is a reflective piece that works up to a "Day in the Life" kind of finish, but more than any other song on the album demonstrates how the collision of indie sensitivity with Man Man's sense of chaos can lead to great success. Still, one must wonder about the ongoing creative battle this album must have been. "Piranhas Club" sounds straight-up smooth and glitzy, pretty, even—if it weren't for Honus Honus instructing the listener to tear someone's limbs off. Long-time fans will pleased to learn that the cannibal Klezmer demon that possesses Man Man's collective soul is still alive and kicking on the album, even if, at times, it slows down to a phrygian dirge to reflect on the havoc it has wreaked.

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