Album Reviews

Man On Man – Man On Man

(Polyvinyl/Big Scary Monsters) UK release date: 7 May 2021

Man On Man - Man On Man Osh, Kosh Begosh, they look fucking adorable in those dungarees. Joey Holman and Roddy Bottum from Man On Man, all decked out in their matching black and yellow work wear in the YouTube clip for Stohner, singing a punchy shoegaze anthems about queer intimacy, larking about on guitars in an abandoned warehouse as bees collect honey for these handsome bears to eventually be smothered in. Thankfully this video didn’t get banned from the site, unlike the promo for Daddy, which had the couple seductively spooning in their tighty whiteys, clippering each other’s heads, messing about with douches and cavorting in the sea.

Apparently documenting the libidinal drives, and the unambiguous romanticism, that lingers within queer folk still causes the more conservative in society to get riled up, even in this enlightened day and age. But fuck them, Man On Man are here to provide agency for the desires and comforts of marginalized people, be it in their unabashed videos or in their horny lyrics.

Take 1983, an upbeat ode to the lost art of cruising, for example. Its line “You know sucking really makes me feel good / It’s just that when were fucking I feel more understood” whilst hyper erotic in its own right isn’t even the most explicitly pleasing reference to fellatio on the dreamy pop record. That comes, so to speak, on the aforementioned track Daddy where Holman sings to his lover “I took a ride to your house / I pulled your shorts down / I knelt before the swelling king / I took in everything / I took in everything.”

It’s not wall-to-wall degeneracy, though, sadly. There are references to housework, running up staircases, moving into beach houses and numerous lines about driving together, referencing the album’s genesis when Holman and Bottum up and moved to California to be closer to Bottum’s mother, who sadly passed away from Covid, starting the project as a way to stay in contact with friends and keep busy creatively. Of course, anxiety and grief about pandemics is something that the majority of queer folk over the age of 40 have spent their whole lives having to deal with. On the gentle Kamikaze, they ask “I’ve been thinking / You’ve been thinking / Is this virus worse than the disease.”

Tenderly questioning at every turn and predominantly joyous in its approach, these subtly provocative tracks are a defiant call to arms in an ever more uncertain age, underlining Bottum’s impeccable songwriting chops following his tenure in the disparate groups Faith No More and Imperial Teen and gleefully showcases Holman’s innate charm. Speaking their truth, Man On Man is a phenomenal reconciliation of the radical and the intimate and couldn’t come at a better time.

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Man On Man: “Take away all the venues and queers would still find a way to get together” – Interview