Album Review: The Men – Devil Music

By Eli Schoop, Copy Editor

[We Are The Men; 2016]

Rating: 5/10

Key Tracks: “Dreamer,” “Violate”

There is a weird gulf between modern avant-garde music and the average indie-rock band. The memories of great rock bands are conjured because they provoked that avant sensibility and pushed the boundaries of guitar music. It seems ludicrously hard to make rock now that hits the spot of being revolutionary, and other genres have taken the lead on crafting the next waves of culture that will inevitably be hailed by future critics.

The Men suffer from this current truth. They want to make exciting rock, which is very understandable, noble even. Their previous efforts rely successfully on the retro-nostalgia trope that has so plagued the genre for the past decade. But why now, switch up the process from Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young-inspired to something that more closely resembles the garage rock fetishism of Ty Segall or Thee Oh Sees? Stylistic diverting is an earnest endeavor, however even in this era of border-crossing and globalist copycats, the Brooklyn sensibilities of The Men don’t necessarily fit California nihilism and joyriding.  

Music-making depends on craft, more specifically the polish and precision that goes into these albums. Devil Music can’t acutely demonstrate its worth given the familiar sounds it brings to the table. Fuzzy production, lo-fi ambiance, aggressive mentality; these phrases carry meaning as buzzwords, but they’re just part of the cluster of albums released in the past few years, typifying the stagnancy of rock albums. It’s a self-cannabilizing trend, one predicated on reliving past glories yet can’t create enough agency to bring sustenance to themselves.

The Men don’t prove separation from an aging ethos too often, but when they strike on Devil Music, it isn’t heartless and deftly shows how strong a band the Brooklynites have maintained to be over the 2000s. However, the pressure of breaking the mold may be too much considering the impressive output the group has rendered, and thusly falling back on a more contrived release proved to be in the cards. It is hard to make rock that is ground-breaking now, so an album such as Devil Music still shows how thin the line can be between mediocre and quality.

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