Living in the land of 10,000 lakes seems to do strange things to people. Take Manplanet, for instance. Aside from assuming a name that aggressively sounds like a gay-sex Web site, each member of this Minnesota-based band once fearlessly donned a snug vinyl bodysuit for a photo shoot in a grocery store, samples of which show up on the sleeve of their EP An Introductory to Music. Best of all, the color of each guy's suit and hair corresponds to his "name": Meet Jefferson White, Tim Crimson, Atom Blutron and Pete Green, who collectively make up a Manplanet of a different sort.
The players seem to think they've come from the future, or another universe, but that's okay. The tunes they've brought with them are fun and clever, a Jetsons-like jumble of pop and rock, falling somewhere in the musical triangle etched out by Gary Numan, David Bowie and Apples in Stereo. Despite crediting three members of the band with playing synthesizers -- as well as enlisting an additional synthesizer player -- Manplanet manages to keep its tunes firmly anchored in a bedrock of distorted guitar. From the opening song, "All Systems Go," through "Space Station Disaster" and "Back to Earth," guitars and substantial drumming are at the core, with the synth providing Numan-esque filigree on top of well-crafted songs. And Manplanet takes a page from the Apples in Stereo in another sense, too: Though the songs are quite catchy -- and thus in danger at first listen of being dubbed with the hated sobriquet "pop" -- none of them have the saccharine sweetness or deadly simplicity that dooms a song to boring irrelevance by the third time you hear it. There must be some weird shit in the runoff up there. Or out there.