The Men
Open Your Heart


3.5
great

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (130 Reviews)
March 30th, 2012 | 42 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A record that can be embraced by new and old fans alike.

Truth be told, this year has thus far probably spawned as many disappointments as it has true successes, with even previously dependable sources proving prone to the odd blip. Hardcore stalwarts Ceremony are a prime example of such, with their new album Zoo joining the likes of Born To Die and Reign Of Terror among 2012's biggest let downs, and despite their stylistic differences, The Men's third LP draws plenty of parallels with that record. The key point of comparison is that both albums have seen the bands in question sacrifice much of the extremity which characterised their earlier work in favour of new, more accessible sounds, but while Zoo has had to bear the burnt of a mixed critical reception and sheer derision from fans, Open Your Heart sees The Men take strides which are as vital as they are bold, and should establish them as a force to be reckoned with in the modern punk scene.

Excellent previous records Immaculada and Leave Home had, of course, already marked the trio out as one of the genre's hottest prospects, and although their aural attack has been toned down, this latest release still places a similar emphasis on volume. There's nothing here that comes close to matching the sheer hostility of a track like 'Lotus,' yet each and every note is still drenched in a sea of distortion, feedback and reverb which goes some way towards maintaining the band's core appeal. Now though, that signature racket is complimented by a new found melodic streak, which not only renders their music far more approachable to outsiders but also more fun for those already on board. 'Going pop' can often come across as a little contrived, especially with a band departing from such a harsh corner of the musical spectrum, but in this case the transition sounds completely authentic and over the course of 10 tracks lacks nothing in substance.

Although its influences are steeped throughout the history of punk rock, Open Your Heart seems to take particular inspiration from two of the genre's key phases. Curtain raiser 'Turn It Around' for instance is in debt to the late 70's and early 80's UK scene, with it's opening bars bearing resemblance to those of Stiff Little Fingers' 'Suspect Device,' though in a decidedly tasteful manner as opposed to outright plagiarism. The rest of the song largely follows suite, with a breakneck tempo and raw energetic kick that Belfast's finest would have been proud of, while the upbeat bubblegum melodies seemingly pay homage to contemporaries like The Buzzcocks. Such touchstones are apparent at various stages throughout the record, but there are also plenty of hints of late 80's America, with the serrated riffs on the likes of 'Animal' and 'Ex-Dreams' spreading strong whiffs of vintage Sonic Youth, while the variety brought about by the country tinge of 'Candy' recalls The Meat Puppets.

With such obvious odes to the past as well as the aforementioned switch in focus, it's perhaps a little curious that this is a record which still sounds distinctly like The Men. What it does demonstrate though, is that the breadth of their talents may be far wider than initially assumed, and while it does contain some fairly uninteresting passages, the skill with which they have incorporated these new sounds is mightily impressive. This ultimately is what separates them from hordes of other bands - including Ceremony - who have tried and failed to pull off a similar trick. They've stuck to their strengths diligently, but have also struck a perfect balance in adding pop hooks to that established formula. Consequently, Open Your Heart pulls off that rare feat of being a record that will be embraced by existing fans while also having the potential to draw in numerous new followers. You get the impression that their best days could still be ahead, but for now this considerable achievement is more than enough



Recent reviews by this author
King Creosote From Scotland With LoveRM Hubbert First and Last
Withered Hand New GodsThe Twilight Sad Live at Paisley Abbey
Stephen Malkmus Wig Out At JagbagsThe Strypes Snapshot
user ratings (201)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
derho (2.5)
Another uneven collection of disparate influences united only by the group's collective swagger...

Adam Downer STAFF (4.5)
Viva Les Hommes...


Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
March 30th 2012


7343 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also posted at http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/

Would appreciate feedback on this one. Wasn't sure about the review hence why I've waited so long before posting.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
March 30th 2012


50458 Comments


Maybe I'll finally check these guys out

Digging: Viper the Rapper - You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack

CaptainDooRight
March 30th 2012


29453 Comments


if i only like chicks will i like this

Digging: Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III ? Saturnian Poetry

Graveyard
March 30th 2012


5740 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"if i only like chicks will i like this"

So you like dudes too? That's cool, I guess

Other than that, this album is way better than their previous one in terms of flow and precision

Digging: Nurse With Wound - Spiral Insana

lucazade22
March 30th 2012


532 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

'Turn it Around', 'Animal', 'Open your Heart' and 'Candy' are really good. Can't manage to get into the other songs, though

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 30th 2012


16149 Comments


Nice review as usual. Never heard these guys but I'm interested.

Digging: Alt-J - This Is All Yours

alachlahol
March 30th 2012


7489 Comments


this band is pumping out albums like its their job i still heavnt heard leaving home just immaculada!!

Tyrael
March 30th 2012


20885 Comments


this band is pumping out albums like its their job

lol

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

kount
March 30th 2012


1279 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ooooooooooooowooooooooouooooooooouooooo

please dont go away.....

ooooooooooooowooooooooouooooooooouooooo

please dont go away.....

ooooooooooooowooooooooouooooooooouooooo


AggravatedYeti
March 30th 2012


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this band is pumping out albums like its their job i still heavnt heard leaving home just immaculada!!

take forever why dont you?

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 31st 2012


6458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree wholeheartily with all the points you raise here, Ali. Actually, my (Dutch) review for the record practically says the same thing. So pos : )

I did seem to enjoy this a lot more than you, though, 'cause it's almost a 4.5 in my book.

Digging: Thom Yorke - Tomorrow's Modern Boxes

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
March 31st 2012


7343 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks guys.

@clercqie: This is pretty close to a 4 for me. Like I (briefly) alluded to, the mid section does drag quite a bit but for some reason that doesn't seem to have much of an effect on my enjoyment of the record as a whole.

AggravatedYeti
March 31st 2012


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

love the mid section of this record tbh.

patrickfannon
April 4th 2012


886 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yo, this is way better than a 3.5. I fucking love it. It's also way better than Leave Home. It's like the Kinks and the Ramones and the Clash made a lovechild with this record.

accompliceofmydeath
April 23rd 2012


4227 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is awesome. Diggin' the old school vibe.

Digging: Cruel Hand - The Negatives

jlech
May 31st 2012


124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No idea how this is currently only rated as a 3.6.

5 months into the year and i think it is my AOTY.

johnnyblaze
May 31st 2012


2609 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

finally got around to checking this out. diggin it pretty hard. wish the vocals were a just a tad higher in the mix though...

expire
May 31st 2012


162 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is decent immaculada is way better tho

br3ad_man
Emeritus
June 18th 2012


2125 Comments


I don't know if I like this more than Leave Home, but still, it's so good.

plane
Staff Reviewer
June 25th 2012


6094 Comments


BLUES



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy