in Review

The Men – Open Your Heart

It’s hard to find a lot about a band that doesn’t have a wikipedia, but from what I know, The Men are a Brooklyn band who released their debut album in late 2011 and are already back with an album that finds them expanding on their punk-influenced aesthetic in a more inviting and eclectic manner.  That kind of makes it sound like these guys have gone commercial, but on the contrary Open Your Heart is filled with the kind of sweaty candor that I usually find pretty irresistible.

Basically this was an album that I thought I was ready to fall in love with from the first listen, and though I have come around to more or less falling in love with this album, it was a little more difficult than I anticipated.  You see, Open Your Heart begins with “Turn It Around”, a balls-out rocker full of impassioned vocals and unhinged guitars, two things that tend to make me weak in the knees.  But from there the album more or less takes a left turn with each song, as it sees The Men applying their rough-and-tumble punk sound to a whole slew of different approaches, which needless to say left me struggling to cling on to one overarching sound that defines this band.

Now I see that it’s that kind of ready-for-anything dynamic that makes this such an incredibly fun album.  You see The Men taking on hardcore punk (“Animal”), echoey alt-country (“Country Song”), amped-up shoegaze (“Please Don’t Go Away”), while also taking a bunch of other twists and turns stylistically.  I suppose in this day and age it’s a bit jarring to hear an indie band that doesn’t stick to one distinct sound on each song, as well as being so defiantly raucous, but they inhibit all these different styles pretty darn well.  Really my only complaint is that Open Your Heart contains one or two too many lengthy instrumental interludes, but for the most part this is the kind of album that gets me excited about new music in general.

Favorite Tracks: “Turn It Around”, “Oscillation”, “Candy”