Manuka Piglet deliver an infectious vein of indie-folk with touches of power-pop and psychedelia. Their fun approach recalls The New Pornographers’ fuzzier power-pop efforts, Beirut’s anthemic roar, and The Unicorns’ oddball psychedelic folk. The Albuquerque, NM-based Manuka Piglet are comprised of four members – Sam Roberts, Calvary Fisher, Ian Carillo, and Andy Herman. Also, they all thoroughly enjoy penguins, and have a few releases available on Bandcamp. Manuka Piglet’s most recent and accomplished release is a new full-length entitled Brain-Damaged Toon Underworld. It’s an exciting album bursting with color and personality, qualities shown immediately on opener “Arsonist”, which begins with a playful Mario Bros-like loop before showing itself as a wonderful builder that transitions through moments of both serene and furious infectiousness.
The creaky acoustic strums throughout “Arsonist” provide a very Beirut feel, especially when the jangly feel kicks up a notch and is accompanied by percussion and faint keys. The vocals throughout the entire album are a strength, largely because – like AC Newman and Zach Condon – technical flawlessness is pushed aside in favor of artistic license. The leads of Roberts and Fisher are creaky and at times unsettling, but in the end deliver a strong melodic punch. Their eclectic approach is epitomized by “Arsonist”, where moments of acoustic nonchalance are balanced by fuzzily distorted moments of unbridled enthusiasm (just after the two-minute mark, for instance). My favorite effort on the album is “Buttons”, which evolves from a gentle acoustic-key combo (more Beck than Beirut here) before crunchy guitars and spacey synth effects help construct an easily digestable array of hooks.
Brain-Damaged Toon Underworld is an excellent release that shows an emerging group in full stride. Stream it in full below: