[Sacred Bones, 2013]
Growing up is hard to do but somewhere in just 4 albums Brooklyn’s favorite sons have found their own voice. The kosmicmuzik that dominated the first album is gone for the most part (minus the 8 minute closer “Supermoon”). While the sound leans heavy on the last record, it’s more steeped in classic rock than the psych-gone-punk of Open Your Heart (the third album in the band’s catalog), one that opened many new doors for The Men. There was a sense of comfort in that album, but while it sounded familiar in so many ways, it was fierce and raw and fresh. New Moon took those songs and ran with them, adding some much needed warmth along the way. Intensely personal, the album stands as a testament to a bands growth, always keeping things fresh and exciting, creating their most articulate record to date.
Taking the recording process to the Catskills of New York seemed to expand their palate. The same noise-gone-punk is still there throughout the twelve songs that make up New Moon, but what’s changed is the added instrumentation. It’s not about the Friday night party on this album. It’s an awakening and a revisit to a time gone past, but doing in in a style that is uniquely their own. While not completely moving away from the straight bottom-of-the-shoe bubblegum pop that has adorned the past record, there is a sense of adventure with the new songs. Long-time member Chris Hansell left the group in 2012. Choosing to fill the void with not just a replacement, they tapped friend and producer, Ben Greenberg, to lay bass and vocals and also added Kevin Faulkner (lap steel).
New Moon starts with the aptly named “Open The Door”, a ditty that would sound more at home on Basement Tapes than it does kicking off a new Men album. It’s not till you get to the second song “Half Angel Half Light” that it starts to feel comfortable, and less like the back porch hootenanny that you were led to believe.
The full swing starts at “Without A Face”, the third song. It’s the point that you roll down the windows and start turning up the volume. Never mind you are half-heartedly singing along, even without knowing the words. They continue to crank them out over the next 30 minutes (or so). Weaving back and forth between blistering proto-punk to stripped down americana to straight harmonica driven classic rock, The Men have started to sound more like a band with depth than your average punk group. The light shines bright on “Bird Song”, the four minute masterpiece that walks a line between being hazy and lethargic while being electrifying.
New Moon not only makes a case for a band that refuses to rehash an album every year, it wins it. In a perfect world, The ‘Mats would have covered “Cortez The Killer” on “Let It Be”. Fortunately for us, we have The Men.