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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 249 - 12/14/16

The Men
Devil Music
Sacred Bones Records

The Men's sixth album answers its diabolical number loud and clear through ye olde Satanic guitar rock, slammed together just for you in a DIY Christmas wrap of Motörhead crunch, Stooges groove and Gang Green wickedness.

Or maybe not as much for you as for their own sanity and conscience: hinting to their softer approach on the previous couple of albums, they declare in the promo letter for the album that "we wanted give ourselves something enjoyable to listen to with this record... Something that had our personality in it, not just another record to get reviewed, to get into festivals, to get on tv."

Reading titles like "Violate" and "Ridin' On", you can without ever pressing play still assure yourself that these tunes are drinking and driving translated to your fuzzy, soon-to-be-outdated-anyway FM-radio. I mentioned Gang Green earlier, and I'm tempted to just copy-paste a magazine review of that band's Another Wasted Night EP that I made a sticker of and applied to my toothbrush glass: "a frantic, sweaty hellride into a world of destruction". It's Gang Green 1986, it's The Men 2016.

But let's spin the LP, and move on to the music hidden behind The Men's declaration of independence. The needle hits the surface and channels us into a grimy, grungey geography through the guitar groove of opener "Dreamer". The track confirms their adherence to the somewhat outdated, yet forever alluring term of "Devil Music": rootsy, reminiscing, menacing lo-fi rock 'n' roll.

This pace stays steady throughout the record, though allowing some small sidesteps: noise rock track "Lion's Den" hearkens the saxophone storm of "L.A. Blues" from Fun House, and trad blues-barred "Hit the Ground" assures you that The Men "ain't lookin' for salvation" - and the ghastly presence of devil music pioneer Robert Johnson in Mark Perro's howl is hard to miss.

Another thing characterising devil music, both in general and in this particular case: the masculinity. The sixth The Men album answers to their band name, and it is the aural idea of a middle class boy's dream: breaking the conformist boundaries of suburban life and going into wild, uncharted, forbidden, nihilstic and hedonistic terrain of drinking, fighting and fucking.

I got a hold of this record together with Baby in Vain's newest EP, namely For the Kids. The music is the same heavy, grumbling, grunge-rooted rock, but it's interesting to compare them: whereas The Men are just that, men, Danish Baby in Vain are an all-girl trio. The vibes are similar on the two efforts, but Baby in Vain feels fresher, scarier, armed and dangerous, even despite a slightly cleaner sound. More revolutionary, more a musical Molotov cocktail.

The title of Baby in Vain's EP combined with this sense of urgency and relevance that's missing in The Men's record, brings to mind Jacques Préverts poem, fitting for this occasion: "to the rear old money bags / the performance is over / now for the kids /the show's about to begin". Come the revolution girl style now!

Now, I won't get carried completely off the hook here. Ignoring my individual idea of society, and setting aside our civilisation's history of patriarchy - which isn't really The Men's fault anyway - "Devil Music" is a sparkling little fuzzbomb. It's not innovative, forward-bent or revolutionary, even if the title promises just that. But what it is, and also is perfectly in par with the record's title? It's lustful, vulgar and simply insanely catchy. Or screw it, let's just say it with Gang Green: this record is "a frantic, sweaty hellride into a world of destruction".

And even if that fruit may not be quite as forbidden as yesteryear, it still tastes pretty damn good.

Copyright © 2016 Erik Johan Egenes e-mail address

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