The thing about The Men is that in their decade as a band you’ve never really been able to tell what’s coming next. Idiosyncratic and all over the place at the best of times, as far as eclectic back-catalogues go this lot are an unrivalled force.
Of the Brooklyn band’s six full-length records, each one has seen the band delve into a host of new worlds - from psych, garage, noise-rock and hardcore punk to folk, country and Americana. To coincide with their ten-year anniversary, the band are returning with their seventh album ‘Drift’ – their most organic and subdued record to date yet somehow arguably their most surprising effort.
True to The Men’s ethos, ‘Drift’ is still an unpredictable and multifaceted record that frequently veers into a number of unexpected directions but this time around they’ve honed their mayhem into a slightly clearer and more thought-out vision, by their standards anyway. Although, you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise off the back of the first two tracks; the industrial proto-punk bite of ‘Maybe I’m Crazy’ combines throbbing electronics, raspy vocals and discordant sax before going into ‘I Hold You In My Arms’, an earnest and fragile track led by soft piano and longing vocals.
Up next is ‘Secret Light’, an improvised cut – and the highlight of the album - that combines a loose jazz-inflicted vibe with a percussion section that could have been plucked right out of CAN’s seminal ‘Future Days’ LP. ‘Rose On Top Of The World’ and ‘Come To Me’ offer folky psychedelic hues that fall somewhere between Lou Reed and The Microphones, whereas ‘So High’, with its harmonica and lap steel, deals in a more laid-back country sound.
Save for ‘Maybe I’m Crazy’ the only other heavy track on the album is the blistering punk number ‘Killed Someone’ that feels a bit like a long-lost demo from their revered ‘Leave Home’ LP but ultimately interrupts the record and feels a bit unnecessary.
Viewed outside of the context that surrounds the band, it may not be a completely coherent album or an entirely original one at that, but what makes The Men so prolific is their ceaseless determination to explore new waters. To me ‘Drift’ see’s songwriters Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi reflect on a decade of relentless experimentation to produce an album that truly showcases both their versatility as musicians and the many dimensions of The Men’s musical canon.
Words: Jack Palfrey
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