Open Your Heart
“Rock is dead” is a phrase that has become far too cliché. Even with traditional rock music being fairly paralyzed, there has been a fair share of great rock bands this past decade. That being said, hearing the opening notes of Open Your Heart, the Brooklyn foursome’s third album, is still no doubt invigorating, as its workmanlike, physical rock that rarely exists anymore.
“Turn It Around” has the gargantuan guitar riff of Dinosaur Jr. with the fiery of No Age. There are no doubt plenty of bands that sound like The Men, as their simple, garage post-punk aesthetic has been performed in one way or the other in the past, but there is something especially muscular and thrilling about The Men. The band employs no special tricks, guitar gymnastics, or unusual vocal styles; there is simply brute, blue collar rock with guys yelling, drums being hammered, and guitars being thrashed. That being said, there is a real skill to what The Men do. It’s hard to pull off such invigorating rock music without special tricks or strong vocal melodies. Instead, much of Open Your Heart is instrumental, and even gets pretty country at times (there is a song called “Country Song” after all). There is an exquisite level of precision to a song like “Oscillation” that is so swift but timely that it sounds like Krautrock crossed with modern day punk. “Please Don’t Go Away” flies through with just that one simple plea, but gets by on chilling vocals and a barrage of punchy drums and guitar.
“Candy” again brings out the band’s rustic side, with chimey guitar mixed with Mark Perro’s listless vocal style make for a great reminder of the Replacements. “Cube”, like “Please Don’t Go Away” leads off with just one repeatedly shouted verse as Open Your Heart reaches its highest velocity. After the Sonic Youth meditation of “Presence”, “Ex-Dreams” sounds like an encore of sorts, one last defibrillator to the heart while still managing to sound like Thurston Moore.
Open Your Heart may be no means is the most original or groundbreaking record you hear in 2012, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Sometimes it’s ok for a rock band just to play rock without having to be something it’s not.
Can’t Miss: “Turn It Around”, “Candy”, “Open Your Heart”, “Animal”
Can’t Hit: none