The Men - Drift
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After a back-to-basics self-released record which reconnected the group with their noise-punk roots while still charting fresh new territory, Brooklyn's the Men returned to longtime home Sacred Bones in 2018, delivering their most eclectic album to date. Drift finds the group trying on enough hats to fill a boutique, and for a band who have continually explored different directions on every album, they still manage to travel down unexpected paths. Opener "Maybe I'm Crazy" is a tense dance-punk number with icy, pulsating synths, paranoid vocals which range from alarmed whispering to abrasive screaming, and noisy guitars scraping away in the background. Immediately afterwards, "When I Held You in My Arms" is a slow, devastatingly lonesome lament sung in a gravelly voice, and could very easily be mistaken for something from one of Bob Dylan's later albums of original material. When the Men return to faster tempos, they sound loose and comfortable yet propulsive and determined. "Secret Light" has a driving rhythm with an insistent bassline, combined with warm keyboards and airy, somewhat distant saxophone. "Rose on Top of the World" is friendly and chipper, with delicately plucked melodies and vocal harmonies. Only on the sharp, vicious "Killed Someone" do the group return to blistering, distorted garage rock. Elsewhere, they explore abstract folk on "Sleep," which features sliding strings, rustic guitars, and tape manipulations, and "Final Prayer" is an expansive zone-out recalling the Stooges' "We Will Fall." The album's scope and ambition are admirable, but the group sound best when they're full of energy, and their slower, more reserved moments can be difficult to get excited over.