I highly doubt anyone is still tossing around the ridiculous notion that ‘Rock Is Dead’ anymore these days, but if anyone still is, they clearly haven’t heard of the Men. One quick look at what the Men have accomplished in the past 4 years ought to shut those idiots up for good. Annually since 2010, the band has released album after album of high quality, albeit fairly unoriginal, rock and roll that has followed an almost absurdly easy to follow development from the noisy hardcore of Immaculada and Leave Home to the rustic Americana of New Moon. And on every release, the Men faithfully devote themselves to checking off every rock archetype present in it’s best music over the past 40 years or so. New Moon sees the band essentially ending up where everyone thought they would with this record, though it isn’t exactly the all out country-pop that Open Your Heart’s “Candy” hinted at.
Many comparisons to Tom Petty have been made when talking about New Moon, and these comparisons are warranted on a few levels. The obvious similarity lies in the music itself, which emulates Petty’s twangy, rollicking rock and roll that brings to mind Springsteen’s even-bluer collar cousin. The Men also inhabit a similar place in rock music’s canon as Petty, albeit in modern times. The type of journeyman rock displayed by the Men is much like Petty and the Heartbreakers, who at no point ever pushed the boundaries of rock, opting instead to flesh out what already existed in the collective conscious of the genre. The Men are a sort of hyper-modernized version of this, seeking to embody as many genres as possible, as opposed to Petty’s reluctance to stray outside of the sort of Americana rock that got Dylan and the aforementoned Springsteen famous before him.
New Moon is far and away the Men’s most straight forward album, but instead of taking away from the album, this lack of experimentation allows the band to focus on crafting the best songs possible. The highlights of all the Men’s albums are always the more basic, to the point tracks (“Oh Yoko”, “Bataille”, “Open Your Heart”), and New Moon is basically a whole album of those. It is also the most lyrically personal of their records, and this compounded with the cleaner, better produced vocals makes the Men seem like actual people for once, instead of like some absurdly prolific rock robot. The humanity a very welcome addition for a band that has a seemingly inhuman work ethic.
Three years is a short time for a band to change as much as the Men have, so you can’t blame them for not giving up their past entirely. The latter half of New Moon sees the Men letting their presumably very long hair down a bit and rocking out hard, like they’ve been patiently waiting to do so all record. It culminates in “Supermoon”, an 8 minute long garage-psych jam that is loud and noisy like their past work, but feels like a step into the future. Unsurprisingly, the Men are already hard at work on the follow up to New Moon. “Supermoon” hints at a very interesting future for this group, an embracing of all of their influences instead of the dichotomy that they have performed up until this point. With essentially all of rock’s stepping stones stepped on at this point, all that is left for them to do is create a sound that is entirely their own. But regardless of whether or not the band follows through on this, the Men can be relied on to provide another solid reaffirmation that the soul of rock and roll is alive and very healthy.
Ridiculous Made Up Genre of the Day: rock rock