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The record stopped spinning but my head didn't. The Men are a three-way tug-o-war backwards, which means their three songwriters are all pushing forward but nobody in the same direction. Eight tracks over 41 minutes haul the listener through the inside of a howling reverb tank before tearing though garage punk and then disappearing on a drum machine. The Men are The Velvet Underground heard through the musical equivalent of a kaleidoscope.

Opener 'If You Leave...' is seduction by shoegaze. The seducer, of course, is one of those people who doesn't seem to care if you like them, which only makes you like them more. It features noises and dissonance and nothing for three minutes before bold, sweeping sounds pulsate. A lone vocal hook repeats throughout, a soft sadness balancing on the wildness below.

Then the Men seem to forget they ever recorded the track and the album thrashes onwards. True to their previous releases, this doesn't feel entirely like a coherent body of work. The Brooklyn foursome never sounded like they wanted to write The Wall though, and never does it seem indulgent or as if they wrote to impress. Their variety is convincing for the main part, even with the inclusion of clarinet on 'Think.'

On one side of the middle sits 'L.A.D.O.C.H'. The suffocating wetness of the guitars drip into your lungs and the beat hits so hard it should be measured in PSI, not BPM. It's discouraging, it's a dirge and it's as shapeless as fire. Listen to it.

There will be comparisons to Sonic Youth and rightly so; 'Bataille' is Johnny Thunders playing through Thurston Moore's rig. If that doesn't convince you, nothing will. The thickness of the sound, the controlled fury in the feedback, is glorious. This is where The Men are at their best, writing songs that work their noise-rock heart into something like a melody. It might be tiresome for all eight tracks, but wedged where it is, the stark sharpness of their writing is a delight.

As the drum loop from 'Night Landing' runs a few more bars in your ears after the album has finished, you'll be wondering about The Men. They're ugly and powerful and glittering. The good revolves with the bad and like red and black on a roulette wheel, you see both without ever being able to tell one from the other.

by Now Then Manchester