Appropriately classifying a band as one filled with energy is a surely cliché feeling nowadays. Truth is energy is a requirement to sustain any kind of feverish following, let alone to succeed as a band. For Brooklyn’s The Men, the raw and visceral rock they create flows from their immense energy and fortunately, it appears to be an endless supply. After their successful Leave Home they return with another forceful venture of rock music with Open Your Heart, an album that has somewhat quietly emerged as one of the year’s finest releases.
That aforementioned energy takes a stirring hand on Open Your Heart with ten songs that encompass rock as the kind of genre that still has a lot to declare and share to the world. And while comparisons to other hard rock enthusiasts come few and far, The Men share a vision that is full of promise. It’s no surprise they took little time to record a follow-up to Leave Home’s fantastic tones with songs that continue to bite with grit. On “Candy” they offer a country-sliced version of Drive-By Truckers that is bluesy and filled with personal stories about losing your job. And before, with the stormy “Animal,” the drums act as a precursor to a heavy rock explosion of fortitude and over-joyed guitars. On the latter the band revels in yelling vocals, juxtaposed with sugary female backdropping vocals while pairing it all with a furious pace that never lets up.
The album’s real sense of diversity comes in the band’s sheer arsenal of styles and modifications to their sound. On “Presence” they drive a seven-minute song from the opening strands of guitar reverb and feedback before the pounding drums make an entrance. The song envelops the droning guitar, chanting vocals and a chugging bass line into one towering piece of music. Through additions of layers and sounds, the song explodes into what is a surreal climax and release. And on “Oscillation” (the album’s other seven minute song) The Men again travel into a territory where they can manipulate the sounds into a growing of layers. Taking a limber approach, one similar to Titus Andronicus, the inside grows with a possessive guitar and fast-paced drums into a relentless flow. Unfiltered and menacing, this is the kind of rock that should be embraced by all.
Even with “Country Song,” and its gentle guitar refrains, The Men sound amazingly charmed with rock’s swooning affects. With amps that are allowed to breathe with static and reverb, drums that clatter against a harsh delivery and with vocals that are unhinged and undeterred, the ‘raw’ adjective is a fitting superlative in this scenario. “Ex-Dreams” takes all the previous connotations and buries them to a fever pitch of raucously fast rock that never loses focus. Every mistake is purposely left in and the live feel of the album allows for all ten songs to cozily melt within and around each other.
While it’s quite true that clichés in music writing are all the rage and honestly, all the easier to spot, the actual music should never be hindered. As a poised quintet making genuinely awesome rock music, The Men have invited others to share in their energy-filled requiem. With Open Your Heart the message is clear as to what affliction fans should take when hearing their music; here’s to more of that timeless energy in the future.