On their LP, THE SHAPE OF THINGS, MAN/MIRACLE have done away with minuscule letters and churned out a solid thirty minutes of all-caps, genre-hopping power pop.

The first half of the album is catchy as hell. The lo-fi, major-key island hook and afrobeat of album opener “ABOVE THE SALON” sounds like Vampire Weekend playing inside a sealed U-Haul trailer.

“HOT SPRAWL” and “UP” maintain that energy, with toms like a locomotive driving hollering, energetic sing-alongs (provided you don’t mind making up words to approximate the mostly unintelligible lyrics).

Halfway through the album, MAN/MIRACLE change their mind about their sound, but without losing the joyful energy. Talking Heads tributes like “OTHER PEOPLE” are shuffled amongst pounding, handclapping rockers like “PUSHING NO SHOVING”, while “MULTITUDES” mixes it up with some hardcore, At The Drive In-style punk, with terse shouting amid 32nd-note bursts of guitar. THE SHAPE OF THINGS straddles so many genre borders, it can sometimes be tough to fall into their groove. Just when you think you’re on the same page, they go and clip off the top of the vocals or shatter a pleasing hook with screeching feedback, and you have to start all over again.

The album holds it together through the end, though, and the vocals of Dylan Travis serve as the common thread. Part Jim James echo chamber, part David Byrne tonal whoops and scat, and with a few Morrissey and Chris Isaak impressions here and there as well, Travis’s ebullient hollering ties the songs together even when they stray into unfamiliar territory. MAN/MIRACLE are probably going to do well with anyone who appreciates lo-fi indie rock, but Talking Heads fans are an even surer bet.

MAN/MIRACLE will play the Tin Can Ale House tomorrow night, and it should be worth your while. If you can’t catch them then, they’ll ride the Rogue Wave back to the Belly Up in late April.

Download: HOT SPRAWL (MP3)

Mar 24 2010 – Tin Can Ale House – San Diego, California
Mar 25 2010 – SLO Art Center – San Luis Obispo, California
Apr 1 2010 – Milk – Third Culture Split Release Party! – San Francisco, California
Apr 7 2010 – Rio Theatre – Santa Cruz, California
Apr 9 2010 – Wonder Ballroom – Portland, Oregon
Apr 10 2010 – Neumo’s – Seattle, Washington
Apr 11 2010 – The Red Room – Boise, Idaho
Apr 13 2010 – Fox Theatre – Boulder, Colorado
Apr 14 2010 – The Bottleneck – Lawrence, Kansas
Apr 15 2010 – Fine Line Cafe – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Apr 16 2010 – High Noon Saloon – Madison, Wisconsin
Apr 17 2010 – Lincoln Hall – Chicago, Illinois
Apr 17 2010 – Lincoln Hall – Chicago, Illinois
Apr 18 2010 – The Bluebird Nightclub – Bloomington, Indiana
Apr 20 2010 – Mojo’s – Columbia, Missouri
Apr 21 2010 – Cain’s Ballroom – Tulsa, Oklahoma
Apr 24 2010 – Club Congress – Tucson, Arizona
Apr 27 2010 – Belly Up Tavern – Solana Beach, California
Apr 29 2010 – El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles, California
Apr 30 2010 – The Fillmore – San Francisco, California

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