Unlike other varieties of bears, polar bears are nomadic, moving from food source to food source, forsaking territory in favor of satiating their appetite. The Men are like that, and they still aren’t satisfied. Contrary to the view of a few haters, last year’s New Moon was a triumph, and the band’s new album Tomorrow’s Hits, out today on Sacred Bones Records, is just as solid, pushing deeper into traditional folk and rock sounds while still including a few nods to the early incarnation of the band, which embraced abrasive punk as its gospel.
Tomorrow’s Hits is rife with bouncing organ and piano as well as catchy, major-key hooks even on heavier songs like “Different Days.” Neil Young was the patron saint of New Moon, and his influence lingers on songs such as “Sleepless,” with its easy pace and harmonica outro and “Settle Me Down,” with its subtly nasal vocal delivery. But The Men are looking to other greats on this new album. The frenetic and sprawling six-minute anthem “Pearly Gates” feels like an unabashed reimagining of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes and the upbeat brass of “Another Night” evokes early Bruce Springsteen. Tomorrow’s Hits is musically dense and sonically rich, navigating through complex layers of instrumentation.
Don’t mistake the album’s ability to get gritty, though—there’s still a good amount of distortion, splashes of feedback, and more raucous energy than most bands tap into during their entire career. Still, I suspect this record will have its detractors, those bemoaning the band’s continued drifting away from their early, caustic punk identities. This myopic view ignores The Men’s greatest asset, their ability to create blistering music in new ways as they evolve.
The album’s title serves as a telling indicator for the band’s mindset; The Men are a band constantly looking to tomorrow, constantly moving to the next thing. The only complaint that can be lodged is that the album is comprised of only eight fantastic songs, which leaves me longing for even more new material. I guess The Men have made me into something of a polar bear, too, already looking forward to the next food source, ready to whet my appetite with the next delectable morsel of music from The Men.