The Show: Wednesday, May 03, 2006
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Arlington’s Man Factory tries to beat back the return of nihilism.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Man Factory

Sat w/Sensitivity Boosters, Fishboy, and The Bracelets at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, 411 E Sycamore St, Denton. 940-387-7781.

By Anthony Mariani

The times, they are a-screwed up. Let’s go back just a little to the Cold War, when the threat of total nuclear annihilation was real. Serious, aggressive, dark pop music was no laughing matter. But once the Berlin Wall came down, Russia split into a dozen states, and the internet age created the appearance of global prosperity, serious, aggressive, dark pop could no longer be taken seriously — things were going so well for everybody that bands trading on nihilism (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Staind) simply sounded fraudulent. Musicians realized that to produce an honest reflection of the new Age of Aquarius, they could either make disposable pop or laugh at themselves. Among guitar-based musos, irony quickly became the main artistic currency. Masters of self-deprecation and glorified bar bands like Bare Naked Ladies, Crash Test Dummies, and Camper Van Beethoven ruled.

Then 9-11 happened.

Now dark matter has returned, blotting out the remains of frivolity in the pop vernacular, though some sarcasm merchants still linger, including Man Factory.

There’s a fine line between being funny and coming off like clowns, and for the most part, the Arlington four-piece manages to generate honest laughs. The band’s target isn’t just the reflection in the mirror but the entire concept of shtick-based indie rock. On “Outlawz,” off Man Factory’s new split-c.d. with Seattle’s Sensitivity Boosters called Boyfriend Split, the lyrics include a lot of tough talk — “We don’t know quite where we come from / But probably straight from hell,” “Bitch, take your clothes off,” “I know you want me, but you can’t have me.” But since the lyrics are sung not in a gravelly, intimidating shout but a nasally, nerdy, mechanical whine, the jarring juxtaposition is cute. As any good comic will tell you: The funniest stuff is usually the stuff you don’t see coming.

A lot of the band’s influences can be seen from space: The vocals alternate between Devo’s and They Might Be Giants’; the cheesy synth lines are pure Scandal; and the bright, jangly guitar and snappy rhythms that permeate most of the tunes are a bare, naked homage to a long-lost but still not forgotten era.

Sat w/Sensitivity Boosters, Fishboy, and The Bracelets at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, 411 E Sycamore St, Denton. 940-387-7781.


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