On "Country Song," a few tracks into the Men's new album, Open Your Heart, the New York rock band bask in twangy guitar parts run through loads of tremolo. That's just about all the track is. There's a similar principle at work on their other songs, as they sweatily appropriate what they will from rock's past.
Luckily, there's enough tightness and momentum that what's borrowed feels renewed. It's impossible not to notice that bit of the title track that blatantly recalls the Buzzcocks' "Ever Fallen In Love?" and hard not to get happily towed along anyway.
I can imagine enjoying opening track "Turn It Around" without feeling especially compelled to hear the rest of the album. But the Men's leanness and discipline make it powerful. Nick Chiericozzi and Mark Perro's guitar work is deceptively simple, filling the song not so much with solos as with catchy fragments, and dropping just enough hints that they could get slimy and noisy if they wanted to.
The different tendencies meld together so naturally that the Men almost begin to sound like a deft but anonymous everyband for those who cherish both rock's deep past and its volatile side trips.
The noise aspect of the band's earlier albums is still there, but pressed into a straight-ahead context. Closing track "Ex-Dreams" channels Sonic Youth - not in the jagged fashion of, say, Unwound or Polvo, but at a fast and confident clip.
Picking out the Men's influences is fun, and the songs' form and execution make it all worthwhile.