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The Men - Drift (Album Review)

Friday, 09 March 2018 Written by Huw Baines

It often helps to be uncompromising, whether you’re a DIY purist, a pop perfectionist or simply out to make the most obtuse record you can. The Men have made a career out of it. The Brooklyn band have resolutely stuck to their own path, wandering through gritty punk, shoutalong bar-band rock and campfire acoustic curios and back again on their way to ‘Drift’, their difficult new record.

‘Devil Music’, self-released back in 2016 following the exit of bassist Ben Greenberg, was a fiery addendum to an evolutionary series of releases that began with ‘Open Your Heart’ four years earlier. Its filthy, unbridled delivery stands in stark contrast to its more free-spirited successor and might one day appear as a dividing line in the band’s discography, fencing off their middle period.

‘Drift’ has little concern with the structures and processes that came before it, preferring to do precisely what it wants, when it wants.  

Previously, the Men had largely retooled the machine between releases, not song-to-song as they do here. Gradual change has been set aside as they cherry pick from their past and influences, resulting in a collection better sampled in individual segments.

In isolation each of its nine songs has its merits, while the band remains a fearsome, all-or-nothing proposition. The opener, Maybe I’m Crazy, is a bold move wrapped in hulking, industrial armour. Secret Light is a heavy-lidded, quietly threatening jam. So High is an alt-country roller of real character. But they don’t really belong on the same record.

The great joy to be found in the Men’s run between ‘Open Your Heart’ and 2014’s ‘Tomorrow's Hits’ was the way they subverted expectations while still giving the listener something to glom onto: they could ramble for minutes at a time before sticking the landing with a perfect groove or shoutalong hook. That’s missing here. You would never want a band like this to phone it in - that would be something close to a betrayal - but ‘Drift’ feels like a record for them, not always for us.

The Men Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri June 01 2018 - LONDON Oslo

Click here to compare & buy The Men Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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