After spending much of 2011 and 2012 on the road, including a trip upstate to write and record New Moon, their fourth full-length in as many years, The Men needed a break. They decided to take the winter of 2012 off to work on new material in Brooklyn. All that time spent on tour meant they had no practice space so founding member Mark Perro offered to turn his bedroom into one. All the furniture except the bed was moved out and the band’s gear was moved in — drums, pianos, a dozen or so guitars and amplifiers. They practiced in that bedroom in Bushwick nearly every day for three months, writing new songs and cutting more than 40 demos.
By the end of that winter, The Men had pared that crop of songs down to 13. With their plans to take a break foiled by their own work ethic, they decided to record those songs before New Moon came out. They booked two days at Brooklyn’s Strange Weather studios, clocked in and tracked all 13 songs entirely live. A horn section stopped by as well, contributing to two songs and playing live right along with the band.
Eight songs from those sessions made the final cut for The Men’s new LP for Sacred Bones, the tongue-in-cheek-but-still-auspiciously-titled Tomorrow’s Hits. This is their first album recorded in a high-end studio and, appropriately, the result is their highest fidelity album to date. That being said, it is still an incredibly straightforward and concise record that is full of genre-bending risks. The end result reinforces the overarching theme that has come to define its makers: The Men are a great rock band.
Opening track Dark Waltz sees The Men’s sometimes chaotic sound rather simplified into a melodic introduction to the album. As usual, the vocals are hard to decipher but this doesn’t matter. The American tones seep through which compliment this blues meets country rock track.
The second track, Get What You Give, carries a 90s pop rock feel to it. It’s a little Del Amitri meets Ocean Colour Scene, somewhere in between. It’s summery – perfect for the brightening spring days the UK is finally getting.
Another Night has a 70s soul and funk feel to it. The song begins with a pleasant piano piece before the guitars and drums kick in. Shortly after, the brass instruments follow in tow giving this track a very The Jam and Paul Weller sound. The vocals are marvelous, “Hey baby/I just can’t stand another fight/And I just can’t stand to stay another night” and are complimented by the bluesy piano and guitar and exploding brass melodies. It’s such an upbeat song despite the saddening lyrics but even so, you can’t help but dance like a loon to this one.
Sleepless continues to present the bluesy tones heard on Tomorrow’s Hits. The piano plays a gentle melody while the drums carry the rhythm and the guitar riffs build on the piano’s melodies. It’s another summery track full of feel good vibes which entices images of sunny beaches, green fields and lazy summer evenings at the pub with your friends. The addition of the harmonica towards the end of the track transports you to the 60s – this song has something bohemian about it.
Pearly Gates explodes through your speakers; it’s a massive blues jam. Having recorded this live, it makes it an even more impressive blues jam. It’s loud, wild and full of energy. It’s just what Tomorrow’s Hits needed to liven the album up. The vocals are raw, gravelly and quite rock star sexy. Pearly Gates has the spirit of the 60s in it. You can’t help but love it.
Pearly Gates is shortly followed by a gentler summer track, Settle Me Down. Settle Me Down introduces muted guitar notes which are complimented by the surfer infused riffs. This track has a do-wop style. The lyrics, “Settle me down my love/I can’t take much more of what you do/Settle me down my love/I can’t sleep the whole night through/Got a piece of my mind/You’re taking plenty of time/Gotta settle me down my love/’Cause I’m afraid we may cross that line” are sung in a soft, enchanting way. This track shows a softer side to the otherwise sometimes chaotic sound of The Men.
Tomorrow’s Hits is a wonderful rock album. It has elements of blues, jazz, folk, pop and rock. It justifies why this band has become known for bending the rules of the rock genre. This is a record everyone should have as the soundtrack to their summer. Tomorrow’s Hits is out now via Sacred Bones.