Punk rock maturity can be a very iffy thing. For every artist like Bob Mould (whose transition from Husker Du to Sugar to solo work sounds like it was always meant to be) there are a thousand like NOFX, who keep playing like they’re 17 well into their 40s. It can be ugly, with a group of portly grey-hairs trying vainly to keep up with the galloping rhythms they gave themselves whiplash to twenty years before. Thankfully Brooklyn’s The Men avoid that pitfall, although a lot of that may have to do with the relatively young age at which the band has decided to add comfortable elements of classic rock into their sound. There are harmonicas on “Bird Song”, for Chrissakes, and a piano-driven riff that is strongly reminiscent of “Cripple Creek Ferry”. The ghosts of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse days are all over some of these tracks, such as the opener “Open Door” and “I Saw Her Face”, although the mid-album one-two punch of “The Brass” and “Electric” provide the counterbalance of driving punk rock, in the same yearning vein as last year’s Open Your Heart. What it comes off like is a punk rock version of Blue Rodeo, full of loud guitars, impassioned playing, and weepy, boozy feels. It injects a lot of character into the band’s sound, and they sound like they’re coming into their own, four albums in.
FINAL MARK: B+