The Men - Tomorrow’s Hits
- Tony Inglis
- 4 March 2014
The Brooklyn outfit create an authentic tribute to classic American rock
Tomorrow’s Hits is the new album by The Men, a band who stand out as prolific amongst their peers in a time when it normally takes four years to make an album – the Brooklyn classic rock outfit have released five full-length studio records in that time. It fits neatly in the middle of the current nostalgia trip permeating modern music.
Described in a press release as 'full of genre-bending risks', Tomorrow’s Hits is anything but. Having already successfully tried their hand at aggressive punk and soft, melancholy country-infused rock, The Men have now turned to the classic American rock of Neil Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Their influences and inspirations could not be from a clearer time – a bit of piano bashing here, a spot of sultry sax there; the woozy harmonica drifting in over the slide guitar as the sun sets and the whisky is poured. The mood could not be forced upon you more.
Music this obviously inspired by the past could verge on teetering over the cliff towards boredom and a lack of fresh ideas. However, Tomorrow’s Hits is saved mainly thanks to The Men having a lot of fun and being able to audibly recognise that on record. The album is concise, clocking in at less than forty minutes, and The Men throw everything they can into that duration. There are no half measures – they wanted to sound like something and instead of just trying, they’ve fully immersed themselves in that and gone for it. Even if the end result is clearly adapted from obvious places, that doesn’t make the short ride into the past any less enjoyable. When listening to a barnstorming hoedown like ‘Pearly Gates’, the music purist might feel an urge to nag and nag, but the screeching guitars, driving piano and Mark Perro’s throat shredding vocals drown that nagging out, allowing the listener to just enjoy the ride.
There’s also something to be said for just how good The Men are – to go from previous album New Moon and their 'Campfire Songs' EP, where they spent a lot more time developing their softer side, to Tomorrow's Hits in less than a year – and to do it so convincingly – is impressive. What’s more, they’ve done it with an air of nonchalance and an attitude that suggests they just decided to head down whatever musical inroads took their fancy. Throwing out a record filled with music that your leather-clad biker-turned-office drone dad would probably enjoy isn’t the most appropriate, never mind advisable, route to take off the back of a couple of critically well received albums. But The Men, spawning originally from a punk aesthetic, don’t seem to very much care about that. And anyway, this might be dad rock, but it is done well and, in its pure form, back in its heyday, it wasn’t so unoriginal – people still hold those bands and artists deep in their heart.
While Tomorrow’s Hits doesn’t present a smorgasbord of new musical ideas, it also doesn’t sound like a band trying to copy bands of yesteryear; they actually sound like those band’s peers, The Men themselves adopting the persona of one of the musical progenitors that this record will have been influenced by today. When your musical intention is nostalgia over originality, then that is the true barometer of your success.