When you start your album off with a throbbing penis of a song like ‘Maybe I’m Crazy‘, it feels like a statement of intent. It sounds nothing like anything else they’ve ever done, and that feral intensity is so potently ramped up that it’s rather like the dripping sweat of a !!! gig, or Nine Inch Nails meets Suicide, perhaps, with maybe even a tiny whiff of Lazarus And The Plane Crash‘s ‘King Of The Village Fete‘ stitched quietly into the patchwork. It’s also quite brilliant, but does it give an indication as to which path the remainder of Drift will take? Hell no. When have The Men ever been that predictable?
Instead, we are immediately confronted with ‘When I Held You In My Arms‘. If Moon Safari had been conceived, not by Air but by David Bowie in his twilight years, I daresay it would have sounded something like this, eventually becoming the equivalent of Dark Side Of The Moon era Pink Floyd. The ‘Replacements meets R.E.M.‘ jangle pop of 2013’s New Moon seems an awfully long time ago right now! Well, I guess it is five years ago now, and the band has developed its sound like the most persistent chameleon through two further albums since then.
‘Secret Light‘ is a frantic, galloping wildebeest soundtracked, it seems, by Ray Manzarek and it’s not until we reach the ferocious ‘Killed Someone‘ – a kind of hybrid of George Thorogood and Motorhead – that even the slightest hint of the garage rock that we all initially associated the Brooklyn outfit with peers mischievously from behind its tree.
In between, we have the fabulous ‘So High‘, which is quite possibly the best song Neil Young never wrote. Emotive mouth organ buddies up with a Crazy Horse-style backing to create what is arguably the standout moment, though there are high points aplenty in The Men’s ever so slightly disconcerting fun house. The atmospheric near-instrumental ‘Sleep‘ probably showcases this the most clearly, painting pictures in your mind of being alone in a desert yet feeling like there’s definitely someone else there, voyeuristically watching your every move.
Thank goodness then for ‘Rose On Top Of The World‘, coming across like Lou Reed in one of his more nonchalant moods with a prettily plucked Spanish guitar riff prancing and preening in your ears, as if to say “sure, there’s a lot of shit going on in the world right now, but it’s ok to laugh and dance, honestly.”
The great thing about The Men is that, although this is their seventh album, they rarely sound like the same band, except, just to contradict myself, you can kind of always tell it’s them. It’s a puzzle I haven’t quite worked out yet, and quite frankly I’m not entirely sure I want to. Another fine album indeed.
Drift is out now on Sacred Bones.