The Men - Hated: 2008-2011 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Men - Hated: 2008-2011

by Tim Sentz Rating:7 Release Date:2018-11-09
The Men - Hated: 2008-2011
The Men - Hated: 2008-2011

One of the more interesting trajectories over the last decade has been the quick rise and eventual fall of Brooklyn DIY punk band The Men. Back in 2011, they managed to surprise audiences with a brutal slayer of an album Leave Home which highlighted a band just crunching away at their machinery. Back then they were loose, barbaric even, and it came across as such with the album’s centerpiece (and to date, their most memorable track) “Bataille.”

Fast forward to 2018 and the Men sound very different from that sound. They’ve dabbled in folk music on Open Your Heart’s “Candy,” they’ve scratched the surface of Sonic Youth noise with “Ex-Dreams,” and they’ve even played with the pop side of alt-rock on their 2013 album New Moon with “Half Angel Half Light.” But since New Moon, they’ve become a bit of a bewildering act. Their country-tinged Tomorrow’s was a bizarre venture into the country side of rock and left a lot of fans put off. After that, it was back to the basics for Devil Music and this year’s solid Drift.

So, it should surprise no one that Hated: 2008-2011 is a necessary time capsule for a band that was at one point considered the most exhilarating punk act around. Hated succeeds in reminding everyone what could have been the future of punk. It’s gritty, loud, and sometimes a bitter pill to swallow. This is all pre-fame material when the band was just churning out noise track after noise track, not worried about impressing anyone. Early highlight “Gates of Steel” recalls Leave Home’s penchant for blistering noise but with pop sensibilities, even if it’s production is more rugged than anything off that record. “Ailment” was an early taster for Hated and feels also ripped from Leave Home’s session, but again was left off for obvious reasons. It doesn’t fit with the feeling of Leave Home, even if it’s sound is akin to that record’s harder edges.

It’s not all wonderful though, there are some meandering cuts. The 7-inch version of Leave Home highlight “Think” isn’t necessary here. Production-wise, it’s very tepid compared to the album version, and its terrible mixing makes it ultimately skippable. There’s a handful of instrumentals/jam sessions that seem added to just take up space – even if “Free Sitar” is enjoyable, it doesn’t add much to the flow of Hated, and “Impish” is almost 5 minutes of jamming that was purposely left off an album for good reason. “Captain Ahab” on the other hand seems primed for an album highlight, just missing lyrics, so here it seems like a missed opportunity.

Hated is a great throwback – it shows the early workings of a band on the cusp of indie recognition. Sacred Bones has accumulated a wide array of talented acts, and The Men were one of the most promising acts to join their ranks. Hated succeeds in capturing that promising energy, like on “Digital Age” where the pulsating guitars just ache in your ears. There are glimpses of their pop capabilities on “Walking Out on Love.” It’s common though, for a band to start out so rough and try to smooth out their edges – appealing to a wider audience. But for those wishing for a return to form, or even just to hear more material from that time frame, Hated is a great compliment to their style and thought process.

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