The Men – New Moon


Artist

Album

New Moon

Label

Sacred Bones Records

Year

2013

Genre

For Fans Of

The Replacements - Dinosaur Jr - Titus Andronicus

Summary

Good intentions and an admirable step in a new direction, but the energy's ultimately lacking.

Rating

70 / 100

On The Men‘s 2012 success ‘Open Your Heart‘, the band continued to display the strong punk/hardcore roots that had been one of the more interesting aspects of the band’s lo-fi rock throughout their career. What was a little more curious, however, were the couple of mellow, primarily acoustic numbers found on the record. With ‘New Moon‘, the band’s newest album, the band pushes their affinity for country-tinged rock to a more central position. The end result? An album that screams Neil Young and Crazy Horse a hell of a lot more than it does Black Flag.

It’s apparent right from the get-go, too. Album opener ‘Open the Door’ is bound to throw plenty of the more steadfast fans of the band’s earlier sound off a little – gone are the wailing, distorted guitars, replaced with a rolling piano number. Slide guitar, an organ, even a mandolin feature on the alt-country tune that at first listen sounds more like background music for a home insurance commercial than the wild, energetic punk vibe of the band’s past.

That said, ‘New Moon‘ thankfully picks up the pace going into track two, ‘Half Angel Half Light’, a warbling classic rock-infused tune that by comparison to the track that precedes it feels positively rambunctious. This is typically how the remainder of ‘New Moon‘ continues, skirting the edges between sentimental soft-rock that almost entirely eschews the aggression of the band’s earlier work on all but a few tracks – towards the end of the record tracks like ‘The Brass’ and ‘Electric’ feel like a throwback to the last couple Men albums, but wedged among the slow reflective nature of the rest of the album they stick out like a sore thumb.

The band manage to straddle the line between their raucous punk roots and their newfound injection of dad-rock vibes on middle track ‘I Saw Her Face’, with a slow, melancholic first half transitioning into a far more energetic second – the pace picks up, the drums get more aggressive, there’s a guitar solo, and it helps to set the tone for the arguably more punchy second half of the record.

Conclusion

While there’s much to be said for The Men breaking out of the sound they’d almost pigeonholed themselves in with their first three records, there’s something that feels a little trite about the “Oh, we’re into alternative country now” attitude of ‘New Moon’. That said, it’s generally a quite catchy and unique record given the era its being released in, but hardcore fans of the band’s rawer material may not be feeling this one, the adrenaline just doesn’t pump like it did on earlier records.

Tracklisting

1. Open the Door
2. Half Angel Half Light
3. Without a Face
4. The Seeds
5. I Saw Her Face
6. High and Lonesome
7. The Brass
8. Electric
9. I See No One
10. Bird Song
11. Freaky
12. Supermoon

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