Once upon a time two men who would be five watched Batman Forever on cable television. Hearing the Flaming Lip’s “Bad Days” play over the Riddler’s pathetic home life resonated a little too close to home (Having been deprived of most of the nineties due the disappointing small town radio they grew up with and their parent’s refusal to make the phone jack “do that internet thing”). And so they vowed never again to wander about, but to make those dreams come true.
And from that bucolic urge to have a good time, The Men continue to make albums.
The Men’s latest and fifth album if you don’t count the cassettes (sue me) is a distinct departure from their previous work, toning down their noise pop in favor of a more Springsteen goes surfing drive-in feel that ultimately falls flat. This album is fun at times and on occasion pretty damn cool. Too bad the album as a whole is riddled (see what I did their?) with army ration production, unintelligibility, and a helmsman just barely keeping it a float – the indie coffee shop elevator music of our day.
Not that the album doesn’t do that particularly well. “Different Days” is a go big or go home good time, sporting fat bass tones, washboard guitar and some of those ol’ punk-give-a-fuck vocals. “Pearly Gates” reminds us all why dance demands impetus not form. King Khan is a proud papa on this one, though noise gurus like Guitar Wolf, would find themselves changing the channel.
In a way this is an album that does one thing very well – it has fun. If you, your mom, your new thang’, and this guy:
all went to see The Men perform just this album, you’d all be dancing with reckless abandon.
And then you’d forget everything about it.
At the end of the day, this album doesn’t wrest its jangling claws into you except whenever the production team wakes up with a start and knocks into the treble nob. Surf, noise, pop, rock, and punk can only vie for dominancy so long before things fade into an overdriven backbeat. Bass lines end up more like River City Ransom than a party groove. Instead of giving us the lyrics we so desperately want to remember, they fall just out of audibility, landing somewhere between nasally “you” and classic four letter standbys like “fall,” “down” etc. that are supposed to give us what the kids are calling “the feels.” (Did I do that right?)
The Men are a solid band, prone to experimentation with a genre (pop) that encourages just the opposite. I was a big fan of the , and I’m sure they’ll continue to do as they please. That’s what makes The Men a great band, but you can’t win them all.
Notable Hits (of Tomorrow):
Listen if you like:
A noise, pop-punk, rock quickie.