The Men
New Moon


3.8
excellent

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
March 2nd, 2013 | 142 replies


Release Date: 03/05/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: now with 90% more antagonistically pleasant piano

I think that embedded in the recording of the jolly, piano-bar intro to “Open the Door” is the sound of a thousand pissed-off Leave Home fans clenching their fists in frustration. The Men seem to have developed a troubled relationship to what their fans expect them to do and what they want to do. Over the course of four albums, they’ve leaned to the latter, aggressively shirking the pigeonholes they set up for themselves. In the past two years, they, like the character on the cover of an Animorphs book, have gradually shifted from a violent, noise-rock monstrosity to a rock band of simple, almost insistently-approachable average folks, much to the chagrin of those who dug the shoegaze/hardcore hybrid they presented on their first two albums. The increasingly vocal ship-jumping since Open Your Heart has made the act’s latter-day accessibility come off like a big-ol’ ”fuck you” to those who’d keep them in a hardcore box. I’ve never heard a more antagonistically pleasant steel guitar than the one that popped up towards the end of Open Your Heart, which is an album that could be pretty accurately summed up thusly: “You liked the noise? Well, screw you, here’s ‘Country Song.’”

This spirit of artistic resistance seeps out from the album’s first comprehensible lyric, “I wonder if you’re thinking about the words I am singing when I hear the guitars playing, the tambourine ringing." New Moon is the full album from the band that recorded Open Your Heart’s curveball, “Candy”: a bit folksy, a little twangy, a little Joe the plumber. I don’t think anyone even screams on this record. Here’s The Men relocated from the grungy basements of Brooklyn to the dive bars of Middle America. Here, they’ve got a little wooziness to them, a boozy sway they could jam on ad infinitum if they let some of these tracks really go. A unifying strength running through The Men’s widely varied back-catalog is the act’s ability to kick out tunes straight into rock-and-roll canon, to the point where their music sounds so intuitively driven, one wonders how hard they’re really trying. New Moon follows suit, as catchy as anything they’ve done, as self-consciously reminiscent of certain rock elders as Leave Home and Open Your Heart are. The argument that their new stuff isn’t aurally painful enough? I’m not buying it.

Which isn’t to say New Moon is necessarily as good as everything The Men have done; whereas previous albums ran on the strength of several peaks, New Moon plateaus somewhere around “chill” and only “kicks ass” occasionally. “Half Angel Half Light” and “Without a Face” provide adequate early-album propulsion as uptempo harmonica-rockers, but in comparison to Open Your Heart’s 1-2 kick of “Turn it Around” and “Animal,” it’s clear that energy is not the driving force of New Moon but a happy byproduct of a record spent gazing plaintively at tumbleweeds and thinkin’ ‘bout stuff. One can almost hear the soda can being kicked down the sidewalk in “High and Lonesome,” and album centerpiece “I Saw Her Face” provides The Men with their very own “take me away to that special place” ballad. Memory, fantasy, and storytelling thematically order this record; as if they’ve aged out of being able to realistically shout “I Am an Animal!”, New Moon finds The Men putting on country hats and chewing tobacco, rustic wisdom implied.

But if there’s less to love here than there is on Open Your Heart, an album which almost unfairly sequenced “Oscillation,” “Please Don’t Go Away” and “Open Your Heart” together, there’s only slightly less. “Electric” is the best song they’ve written to date, the kind of virtuosic rock anthem whose seeming effortlessness can only be achieved through several years of playing together, while “The Brass” and “Supermoon” strokes their still-alive-though-barely-breathing propensity for reckless noise. Like their early album killer suggests, The Men have always been a band “Without a Face.” Their refusal to play into any kind of narrative shifts the focus of their art away from them and onto their material. Put another way, when The Men take on genres, the move is not a declarative statement by the band so much as a commentary on and homage to the style. The Petty-esque everyman they’re conjuring on New Moon is a well-done facsimile that lends itself to consistency over flash, meaning the album tends to pass without the attention-grabbing chutzpah of, say, a cough in the middle of an apocalyptic break-down. New Moon is simply a more casual affair by The Men, a perfectly passable rock record by a band with the talent to pull that off and without the anxiety that you’ll want to pay attention. Here’s your artistic integrity; do with it what you will.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
alachlahol
March 2nd 2013


7501 Comments


I think that embedded in the recording of the jolly, piano-bar intro to “Open the Door” is the sound of a thousand pissed-off Leave Home fans’ pants filling with shit.


it would be a thousand immaculada fans actually you should review that album

fromtheinside
March 2nd 2013


18717 Comments


yeah immaculada

Digging: Devin Townsend Project - Z2

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2013


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i dont know if there even are a thousand immaculada fans

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2013


15052 Comments


"the kind of virtuosic rock anthem who’s"

whose*

good review overall but i dont really know this band that well

another thing that may just be me: "while “The Brass” and “Supermoon” are exactly what their still-
alive-though-barely-
breathing propensity for reckless noise would sound like through the dusty filter they’ve placed
over New Moon."

this sentence just sorta struck me as weird because you're describing songs on an album in terms
of...the album itself? like it would make sense of the "dusty filter" was referencing another album
but it seems weird to say "these songs sound like noisy songs except done in the style of this
album"

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2013


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks bby

this sentence just sorta struck me as weird because you're describing songs on an album in
terms of...the album itself? like it would make sense of the "dusty filter" was referencing another
album but it seems weird to say "these songs sound like noisy songs except done in the style of this
album"


yeah there's probably a better way to phrase that

robin
Emeritus
March 2nd 2013


4249 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hey hey my my noise rock can never die

alachlahol
March 2nd 2013


7501 Comments


im just nitpickin man if chewing tobaccos your thing then have at it hoss

robin
Emeritus
March 2nd 2013


4249 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i can't get over how much i love "open the door." < 3

seriously like it was obvious they were going to do this shit (it's like watching mewithoutYou progress) but still.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 2nd 2013


23910 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

still deciding how I feel about this one. I like the second half a lot, but the first 5 or so songs do nothing for me.

Digging: RATKING - So It Goes

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 2nd 2013


6487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah this review pretty much says it all.

Digging: Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers

kount
March 2nd 2013


1279 Comments


lost the bald guy lost the punk

ILJ
March 2nd 2013


6712 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I haven't listened to this yet because I much prefer Immaculada to everything else they've done but I appreciate that they keep doing different things so I'll still give it a spin.

sniper
March 2nd 2013


19077 Comments


great review

chambered99
March 2nd 2013


815 Comments


doesn't quite have the dark bite of leave home but still rules

ILJ
March 2nd 2013


6712 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm actually digging this quite a bit so far.

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2013


10499 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

"I'm not a woman, so I don't need everything to be hard."

that guy gets it

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
March 3rd 2013


3471 Comments


Was expecting this to be a Jacob review from the summary. Good review though, Downer, you're one of the best writers on the site IMO and I wish I could write like you

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
March 3rd 2013


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^thanks man

also, mmm that feel when you review an album, listen to it again, and suddenly everything's better

ILJ
March 3rd 2013


6712 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was about 3x better than I expected it to be. The closer is awesome.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2013


6487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

also, mmm that feel when you review an album, listen to it again, and suddenly everything's better

.1 better, no less!



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