Words About Music
The Men “Tomorrow’s Hits”
So, I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but The Men may be one of the best rock bands of the past few years. Since 2010, they have reliably put out one decent-to-excellent album per year. Last year’s “New Moon” wasn’t really on the excellent side of the spectrum, but for the most part The Men have consistently released very compelling rock and roll, lo-fi, punk rock, new wave, post-punk, alternative country music. The cycle continues with their fifth album “Tomorrow’s Hits,” arguably the band’s best effort since 2011’s “Leave Home.” The music is much catchier and more fun than it has been recently, and that may have to do with yet another stylistic shift in the band’s sound. While their last album relied on a more relaxed sound, “Tomorrow’s Hits” sounds like 70s Bruce Springsteen playing at a bar in Memphis. It’s not too overbearing nor is it too boring. It’s a sound that fits the band very well and it really carries “Tomorrow’s Hits” to new heights of quality.
Now, I will let you in on a little secret. Bands that play so-called “rock and roll” like this that aren’t exactly the most original bands in the world aren’t exactly my cup of tea. And The Men just so happen to be playing into that sort of sound with this album which is quite the damper on my ability to fully love it. However, I cannot help but acknowledge that these songs are very well written and just a bit too catchy to really be able to ignore. The saxophones on “Another Night” are just undeniable. The Men sound like a whole new band once again. They sound like they’re having more fun than I think they’ve ever had. And while it does come off sounding a bit too similar to other songs for my taste, the fun is contagious.
Another common characteristic of The Men is their experimentation with song durations. The Men is the kind of band who you’d think would write mostly 2-3 minute tracks, but over half the songs on this album are more in the 4-5-6 minute range. Now that makes sense for an 8-song album like this one, but by the end of the longer tracks it just feels like the ideas are gone. The Men’s songs don’t need to be as long as they can get sometimes, and it would probably work much better if they stuck with 3-4 minute tracks on maybe a 10-song album. But, that is just another small setback in what is a pretty good album. The choruses are bombastic and the band has all the energy of your favorite punk bands. “Tomorrow’s Hits” is a damn good member of the discography.
It is at this point that I acknowledge all the similarities to Titus Andronicus, because there do seem to be quite a few on this album. But for the most part, my biggest problems with this album lie in the fact that not all the songs are as great as “Different Days.” Be that as it may, The Men have been pretty consistent in their quality and “Tomorrow’s Hits” basically balances out the disappointment that was “New Moon.” These guys are doing great things and I can’t wait to hear Album #6 in March 2015.
SCORE – 7.8
FAVORITE TRACKS – Dark Waltz, Another Night, Different Days, Sleepless, Pearly Gates, Going Down