Maybe it makes me less of a man, but I had a hard time last year getting into The Men’s Leave Home. Sure, there were a handful of tracks that melted my face (“()”, “Bataille”), but there were just as many that seemed too unfocused and abrasive. Maybe that was the point, but for whatever reason a lot of it left me cold. This isn’t a problem on their latest, Open Your Heart. Why it works so well, and why I’m saying right now that it’s the best ROCK album since The Monitor, is because it takes the last record’s most adrenaline-pumping moments and adds a bunch of awesome new sonic dimensions to the band’s hardcore repertoire. The expansive, mostly instrumental tracks now build with a definite sense of purpose (“Oscillation” in particular is just flat-out incredible in that department), and there’s a much more defined sense of melody to the straight punk songs – the mid album 1-2 punch of “Please Don’t Go Away” and the title track is truly something to behold. Then again, any band that is so clearly influenced by the fuck-all recklessness of early-to-mid-80s Replacements or the exploratory guitar mayhem of prime Sonic Youth is going to get a lot of love from me, and those sounds are all over this record. The biggest surprise though is just how convincingly these guys switch gears to the stripped-down, rootsy sound heard on “Country Song” (which is only vaguely “country”) and “Candy” (which could easily be a Cooley-sung Drive-by Truckers tune). It all fits perfectly, brought home on the “Teen Age Riot”-meets-“Seen Your Video” thrash of closer “Ex-Dreams”. Open Your Heart is pure raw power, easily an early favorite to be one of the year’s best come December.
MP3 :: Ex-Dreams
Stream :: Open Your Heart
(from Open Your Heart. Buy here)