Anyone who knows anything about this Brooklyn quartet after eight records is that they don’t fuck about. The Men’s records are generally released to little fanfare, but my gosh name me a tighter, grittier rock outfit still sounding this good 15 years in.
It’s hard not to think of The Replacements coming into New York City – The Men’s ninth album and first with new label, Fuzz Club. It chugs along gracefully at a lean 39 minutes as the band choose to eschew the CBGBing of their last few records, especially the likes of the Crazy Horse-esque Wading in Dirty Water – the ten minute opus released on their last album, 2020’s Mercy, and go straight for the jugular and keep it tight and compact. The album feels like a band running through a set at your local pub on a Friday night, radiating the blood, sweat and tears that is rock and roll as each track wades into the next.
Tom Verlaine: The Eternal Purveyor of “Crystal-clear crisp sweet guitar suites”
The band here curate the fuck out of an LP, and this is where New York City really comes its own, with the onslaught of differing tempos from track to track. Bursting out of the gates with the opening number, Hard Livin, as the guitars are brash as ever. It’s the tickling of the ivories that keep this track standing out and a no-brainer as the first single; absolute chaos in a can, and it’s typical from this unit.
Nick Chiericozzi stated in the first press release that ‘‘Hard Livin’ is a song trying to find a way to adjust between requesting Godly intervention and reconciling the fact that we are largely alone. Hard Livin’ is livin’ hard. It’s something people go through and that in fact, besides our beginnings and endings, might be our single most shared experience.”
God Bless The USA might be the most Ramones-like they’ve ever gotten with a sharp Johnny Ramone chord progression and a sickly sweet chorus shouted across the proceedings, timeless rockabilly this is! Eye sees the band in this iteration slow it down the most with some blatant metallic guitar shredding. It’s not until Anyway I Find You do they slow it down a tad, exemplifying solid songcraft in which you’d may have found on an early War on Drugs LP. It’s lovely stuff before they close it out with the raggedy six minute closer in River Flows, a scorching tune with a real sense of melody.
The majority of tracks are splintered with raucous and fitting solos concocted by the O.G members Chiericozzi and Mark Perro. With a stark contrast to the more mellow and acoustic sounds of Mercy, maybe the guys are angry, maybe lockdowns have caused these four talented musicians to get in a room and record the most primal, energy-driven and raucous music they could conjure up. Whether it has anything to do with that or not, it’s just a beautiful thing to see the contrast in the making. It’s nothing new but it’s another notch on the belt and it’s provided me with hours on end of satisfaction.
New York City is out now via Fuzz Club. Purchase from Bandcamp.
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