The Men - New Moon - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Men - New Moon

by Steve Reynolds Rating:8 Release Date:2013-03-04

The fourth album from Brooklyn's The Men is a musical beast which bridges the gap between rock and post-hardcore. You might consider that a bold-as-brass statement to make, but after a few listens it's very easy to see why they are revered in those waters. The quintet's current line-up is quickly out of the blocks in 2013, mining a rich creative seam despite having less than 12 months ago released the highly acclaimed Open Your Heart.

Not wanting to rest on their laurels, they uphold a host of musical doctrines resulting in a bunch of eclectic compositions, starting with the folky, threadbare lead track, 'Open the Door'. They then gently ease into indie-rock with some subtle nods to country 'n' western on 'Half Angel Half Light' . However, it all gets ramped up on the chaotic 'Without a Face', a take on psychedelia with a Bob Dylan-esque harmonica barking throughout, evoking the earthy sounds of Titus Andronicus's The Monitor.

'The Seeds' is beautifully arranged, with some hexed up harmonies and thought-provoking lyrics: "Shifting the seeds of my mind... In the morning light/ in the evenings candle light/ to the water I'll go/ wash me and let it flow". It's the sort of country cow-poke that Fleet Foxes failed to make. They even attempt a slice of Mazzy Star on the burning, woozy instrumental 'High and Lonesome'. It's a bold and bloody marvellous song which floats along as the steel-guitar and subtle drum work together perfectly.

However, when you flip the album over to side two, it all becomes a musical exfoliation, like the scene from Dusk Till Dawn when they all become vampires (shit, I hope I haven't ruined that film for you now - apologies). A musical metaphor for a game of two halves. Off come the gloves and out come the band's heavy guns.

'The Brass' is a wound-up coil of contorted guitar and balls-out rock with pummelling drums. 'Electric' is in similar vein with a driving, chugging refrain. 'I See No One' is reminiscent of The Lemonheads at the frontend but descends into some of J Mascis's finest guitar moments. 'Bird Song' soars while the perfectly pitched harmonica fights the Hammond organ fanfare formidably: "I drank my wine and enjoyed your company".

There is a confident air of accomplished musicianship on show throughout New Moon, and it feels like the band is smiling at you as they move through the gears incessantly and easily over the 12 tracks. However, they save the best till last with the malevolent 'Supermoon'. A layer-building pastiche of heavy psych-rock, weighing in at seven-plus minutes, it's the perfect ending for an album bursting in versatility, hooks and musical nous.

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