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The Men's Stiff Little Album

Having some thoughts on how some men are better than others.
March 13, 2012, 6:00pm

Some shitty comedian once said that when you have kids, you stop buying new clothes and become frozen in time. I think that's pretty much true with most people's musical tastes. When people with interests get a "real job" or start a family they start talking about how new bands suck and aren't as good as Neutral Milk Hotel or Sunny Day Real Estate or whatever boring crap they listened to when they actually enjoyed their lives.

The notion that music "sucks now" is a sign of being lazy and/or having other shit to do than getting stoned in a dorm room and talking about nothing. I understand why people still buy Wilco albums and hate Widowspeak. Bands now only have about a week of buzz time before the new Bear in Heaven album comes out and they are forgotten like XX, Big Pink, Warpaint or whatever modern secretary rock people jizz over and then retire in two weeks.

I still like new music and don't pine for any overrated era of tunes, and since every review on earth has been telling me I'm a complete asshole if I don't love The Men's new album “Open Your Heart,” I stole the files immediately to decide if I like it enough to buy the vinyl or see their next Brooklyn show. I didn’t really like their earlier records, but that doesn't mean they didn’t "put it together" and make something I'd be into now, so I’d decide for myself.

Every tastemaker has picked The Men's Open Your Heart as the early album of the year, because every music critic is secretly a hard rocker. Skimming reviews, I've found it compared to RFTC/Hot Snakes, Comets on Fire, T. Rex Thin Lizzy, Chuck Berry, Eagles of Death Metal, Fugazi, Foo Fighters, Led Zeppelin, and Neu! Drawing on all those influences is pretty much impossible, but after download, a few seconds into album opener “Turn It Around,” I thought someone played a trick on me and tagged Still Little Fingers’ Inflammable Material with The Men’s info. I skipped ahead to the title track and heard what sounded exactly like the Buzzcocks “Ever Fallen In Love” and got really bored. (How bored? I spliced the tunes together.) Other tracks sounded like other bands and genres, but most tracks were too long to get through or care about, although “Cube” starts off with a drum beat close to Chain of Strength's “Just How Much” … I'm not kidding.  I guess “Oscillation” is the song that is supposed to sound like Neu! but it came off like a Sonic Youth b-side from the past five years.

Is the album good? I don't really care, and all I really know about The Men is people mosh at their shows even though they don't have mosh parts. That’s kind of weird, but they made an album that references whatever the fucking lazy retired human listening thinks is "rock music." You cannot fault The Men for making a record that a reviewer will sloppily compare to their favorite (and random) guitar-based bands—these are guys who puffed up Oasis for retro-riff homage and then bashed them four boring albums later—but I’m completely fucking tired of the Buzzcocks and Still Little Fingers, so I'm similarly uninterested in The Men. I did, however, think it would be fun to see if I was "misremembering" these songs and their similarities, but I listened to the splice again, and I actually like this track better than the album.