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The Men – Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones)

1 March 2012

The Men certainly don’t waste any time. This is their third full-length and all have been released in a three year span. Coming off last year’s exemplary Leave Home, a record that I thought was Sacred Bones’ best release to date (and #11 on my year-end list), I shudder to think that they have actually outdone that effort. Striking while the creative irons were hot, Open Your Heart comes out blistering with “Turn It Around,”; the opening downward strumming E power chord recall that of “Suspect Device,”. It’s very difficult to be at my desk while listening to this track as I am beating a dent into the leg of my chair from tapping my foot so hard and repeatedly. The intensity doesn’t let up with “Animal”, a blues punk progression complete with slide guitar. There are plenty of easy references to make in the amalgum that is Open Your Heart. The screaming vocals trying to bust through the musical wall on the first two tracks remind me of David Yow trying to fight through a bulked up Stooges. “Oscillation,” and “Ex-Dreams,” could be Sonic Youth tunes performed with Fucked Up as the backing band. But as these are all influences that appeal greatly to me, I am perfectly happy with it.

There is an acoustic number, “Candy”, followed by the core band sound of “Cube,”. Ending side A and beginning side B are the two tracks that stick out just a bit in front of the eight other gems. “Please Don’t Go Away,” is loud and aggressive while still being fun and danceable (not really moshworthy). It’s the most accessible track The Men have recorded since their Devo cover; that is, until the title track. Complete with the most vocal-prominent mix on the record, the band achieves the heavy-heartfelt dynamic on a level to that of Hüsker Dü. High praise, to be sure, but none of it is hyperbolic. Big, boisterous hardcore sound collides into pop sensibility and explodes to form Open Your Heart. You’ll definitely want to open your damned ears.