Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Men's "Leave Home": Music Review

Dronier and fuzzier and angrier than what appears to be their breakthrough album following this, Open Your Heart, this aggressively combines shoegaze, drone, hardcore, Krautrock, late 70s British punk-pop, and the American college rock of thirty years ago. Great influences for me, and while as with Open this is not original in its styles, it blends them well. Actually, I like this better as it's more aggressive.

Leave Home does not cover the Ramones, but this New York (Brooklyn, unsurprisingly) band channels the idealism of the early punk era with the experimentation of later post-punks, enriching a hardcore-pop combination with energy. "If You Leave" channels shoegaze into post-punk promisingly; the band often uses longer songs to explore such avenues. "Lotus" as an instrumental kicks in winningly with a well-mixed bass riff after its rousing anthemic start in a Husker Du meets slightly chiming hardcore overlay that grows on you with repeated playings.

"Think" follows in well-sequenced form with another thunderous song. It reminds me of Feedtime (I heard this in a song on "Open" too; see that review and Feedtime's The Aberrant Years for more on this) crossed with a metal-punk short riff. I have heard The Men compared to black metal, but to me it's more a very compressed punk with a metal vocal style tucked in, and a bit of guitar noodling in the same manner. Like some of their songs, it does not know where to go or how to end, and the talent in their riffing at times leaves them circling around looking for an exit from a limited song structure. Like some songs, it feels much longer than it is. Not a bad quality!

"Ladoch" wears out its welcome early on, however. It too imitates the metal approach, but noise annoys. The song titled only "()" (shades of Sigur Ros?) quotes from Spacemen 3 "Take Me to the Other Side" and it naturally applies that band's obsessive workouts. The intriguingly titled "Bataille" may be a rarity: a French philosopher inspiring what may be the lyrics (hard to make them out) for a riff-heavy workout in indie-rock punk fashion of the 80s, while "S****ing with the Shaw" does the same for a song lurching from drone to a slightly surf-rocking explosion in its last minute.

The album closes with "Night Landing." Reminds me somehow of the later Faust (see my review of "Something Dirty" last year) crossed with what PiL might have morphed into if the line-up had been intact decades on. I find this a stronger, if messier, album than Open, and both discs indicate The Men as a band worth hearing and watching. (Amazon US 7-3-12)

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