The Men‘s debut LP, Leave Home, is an eight-course feast curated and prepared by Black Flag, Guy Picciotto, Sleep, and Queens of the Stone Age, but it leaves a singular aftertaste that is all its own. From the bowels of Brooklyn basement-jammers and loft shows, The Men arrive with their first LP on Sacred Bones, attacking the current scene with a full cache of influences. Fractured, gaunt sounds are bolstered with the barks of hardcore, the drones of gaze, and the ceaselessness of psych. Wide-open jams are juxtaposed with claustrophobic, psychotic fits. It’s a bad trip you won’t want to come down from.
With a whole quiver full of sounds to pull from, the four-piece worked hard to corral all of their influences into a cohesive, demanding, and abrasive album. And how awesome that abrasion is–like the cacophonous freakout of “Lotus” or the subsequent drag-noise of ”L.A.D.O.C.H.”, the latter of which includes about 30 seconds of definitive emotion that conjures up something close to a nightmare. It’s good to hear music this fucking terrifying.
Thankfuly, The Men don’t overstay their welcome in dungeons of punk. The last half of the album consists of burnt and fried psych jams like the instrumental highlight and song title of the year contender “Shittin’ with the Shah”, which even plays with some tension and release aspects of post-rock before the song shifts into a cocaine-surfy climax. And after a No Agey nod to George Bataille, there’s the finale, “Night Landing”. Not since Ian Curtis stood quaking on stage has something sounded so jarring and paranoid. The band taps a post-punk drum loop, and the boys expel what energy they have left with the words “can you push them away?” repeating over a relentless everything, spitting blood, until the music sputters off and abruptly ends.
Leave Home soaks itself in anxiety and washes it away with waves of dirty psych in a debut that will have as many fists in the air as it will have heads in the clouds–but, like real scary clouds with angular lines and spiders and whatnot. The Men’s junkyard drums, guitars, and vocals come alive and rip apart the current framework of punk and hardcore and reconstruct it into something far more hideous. After 41 minutes, Leave Home doesn’t linger like a flashback, it sticks like a demented structure that’s mysteriously magnetic and, in the end, really fun. No wonder this stuff is addictive.