Review Summary: Stand aside mr. Timberlake, Men, Women And Children are here to claim the 'most danceable record of 2006.' award.
After releasing Worship and Tribute
with post-hardcore outfit Glassjaw, singer Daryl Palumbo put the band on hiatus, wanting to start a project that would reflect his love for other styles, most notably hip-hop and pop, which would become Head Automatica. Ironically, guitarist Todd Weinstock, who left the band after founding out the band had booked shows he wasn't notified of, started a similar sounding band, Men Women and Children.
While both Palumbo and Weinstock wanted to move away from the more serious side of Glassjaw to create ''fun'' music, both projects are still distinctly different. Because Palumbo is such an incredibly distinctive vocalist, connections to Glassjaw can still be made. Weinstock, instead of creating some faux of the Glassjaw sound, managed to create a band with a sound all of their own, with one of the more suprising influences coming from 70’s disco.
Like the summary says, each track on this album is incredibly catchy and invites you to start dancing. This has been done before, but the fact that MWAC have been working on these tracks for quite awhile make them truly stand out. The songs are wonderfully crafted, with great interplay between the different instruments, much like you’d find on early Elvis Costello records. In a way you could compare this to certain electronica, with keyboard/synth melodies molding with guitar lines and bass riffs to shape entire song structures. Because each instrument is playing a different part, rather than say, the bass following the guitar, there is a strong "greater than the sum of its parts" vibe created.
TJ Penzone is a vocalist who manages to walk the fine line between overly cheesy and giving a respectful nod to his influences, mainly 80's pop. His voice fits does fit the music very well, and he’s able to hit all the high notes with ease just like his heroes before him.
Though combining disco and/or 80’s synth-pop with modern pop-rock aspects isn't anything new, MWAC manages to make it their own sound rather than seeming to experiment with it.
Because the songs are of such a high quality, it wouldn't be out of line to say that this album has a lot of single-worthy material. Opener 'Dance in My Blood' is one of those openers that manages to summarize what awaits the listener on the rest of the album, in a positive way. Disco synths, wah wah guitar hooks, and a chorus that goes " You don't need a reason to get out on the dance floor, we can get it on and on, all night long
" is enough to make anyone bust a move to say the least. 'Messy' should have been a smash hit, with a guitar hook that would make any pop producer jealous, while ‘Photosynthesis(We’re Losing O2)’ is more of a high energy rocker.
The lyrics on the album overall fit the music, with a strong tongue-in-cheek feel to them. If lyrics like “we're holding hands while burning, you’re 21, and second to none!
or “ So give signs sweet girl for here there are none, and if the body's numb, then the feet will take over
” irritate you, stay away.
The consistency that holds this album together, is also the knife in its back. While the album puts on an array of high quality material from beginning ‘till end without giving the listener a sense of fatigue, there isn’t a lot of versatility to be found. Every song manages to pack a punch, but what’s really missing here is a ballad or a slow song, something to allow the listener to catch their breathe in a 40 minute disco revival/pop-rock trip.
The other downside is that the band seems to be paving their way to their own demise. This is somewhat of a stand-out record, but it carves such a small niche for the band that it seems the only way to a sophomore album is a replica of this.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, Men, Women and Children have released an excellent debut CD any fan of fun, danceable music should pick up.