This is what happens when Brooklyn boys retreat to the Catskills.
Er, Brooklyn men. The Men. The band's past records are like modern takes on the ‘80s hardcore scene. It's as loud, fast, muscular and dirty as the streets they were walking. But when it came time to make New Moon, The Men headed upstate to a cabin in the mountains and the resulting music echoes the new scenery.
The first song, “Open the Door,” sounds downright pastoral (relatively speaking). The driving rhythm on “The Seeds” chugs along in an Americana road song kind of way. “High and Lonesome,” with its ghostly lap steel licks and piano, has a mournful country quality. “Bird Song” recalls ‘70s southern rock with some cheerful harmonica, tangy guitar and lines like, “Oh loving heart, please set me free / From these restless days, and let me be free.”
The Men haven't totally flipped a switch though. They're right back to their hardcore roots on songs like “The Brass” and “Electric” -- both short on lyrics but with enough implied meaning in the raging tempos and high volume to make up for it. The album closer, “Supermoon,” stretches out that formula into nine minutes of an absolute barn-burner.
New Moon's high point comes on “I Saw Her Face,” a stunning five-and-a-half-minute blazer of a love song recorded in just one take. The lyrics are tender -- “Take me away / to that special place / Where is says love on the door / and I can see her face” -- but the sound packs a lot more passion in gut-busting drums and raging guitar, culminating in an abrupt pick-up in tempo where they really cut loose.
Putting New Moon into words makes it sound a little disjointed, and maybe it can be, but a little genre whiplash is worth it to hear The Men experiment. It holds together just fine and sounds fantastic.