The Men 

Open Your Heart

The guitar is an instrument of politics. As it continues to cede its position as the fundamental sound of popular music, building an album around crashing chords and fervid drumming sounds less like a recipe for success and more like an artistic statement. Rock is on its way to becoming jazz. It was a synonym for pop music for decades, but now it is a form.

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The Men know the form. "Turn it Around," the first track on Open Your Heart, is a tumbling assault of overdubs and turnarounds that evoke the best of Stooges-era power pop. Maybe it's actually pop-punk, or possibly garage. The point is that it's rock music as envisioned by 14-year-olds: big loud drums and even louder guitars, as fast and as butch as possible.

Three tracks later, though, on "Oscillation," The Men sound like Galaxie 500. "Candy" sounds like a combination of the Velvet Underground and Exile-era Stones, if such a collaboration would not immediately end in a cocaine overdose. These stylistic transitions suggest that The Men are up to something besides big, dumb and loud. They're after sounds from rock's drying palette, and they've found more than one.

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