Release Date: Feb 1, 2011
Record label: Iamsound
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
If the mark of a good album is its ability to juxtapose a line such as "Contributions from other artists/ Should their collaborations with multi-media performances … " with a shuddering disco beat and make it sound like a natural, danceable match, then MEN's debut is one of the best of the year. Or, at least, the best of the niche area where gender politics and dance music intersect. Fronted by ex-Le Tigre member JD Sansom, the Brooklyn trio seductively wrap sometimes over-right-on lyrics (Credit Card Babie$, for instance, contrasts a gay couple's desire for a child with the effect it would have on the environment) in ultra-catchy funk, electronica and a dash of Slits-like reggae.
For all their rhetoric and sharp edges, what really marked feminist electroclash band Le Tigre as special was their inclusiveness. By employing the DIY aesthetic of their 'zine background, working with the LGBT community and earnestly promoting their influences the band gave themselves an air of approachability - even Kathleen Hanna's bubblegum shriek, so abrasive on Bikini Kill's records, perfectly fitted the goofiness of their live shows. However, with Le Tigre now on hiatus, Hanna's bandmates JD Samson and Joanna Fateman have returned as MEN, which seems, on paper at least, to be a much more complicated prospect.
MEN, the art/music collective formed by Le Tigre's J.D. Samson, formed in 2007 but didn’t release their debut album, Talk About Body, until four years later. However, it’s clear that the band -- which also features Ginger Brooks Takahashi, Michael O’Neill and Samson's Le Tigre bandmate Johanna Fateman as a collaborator -- spent that time well, honing its sound and message into something equally appealing and radical.
It’s not as though there hasn’t been commentary on the recession, or war, or the failings of governments at home and abroad, but there hasn’t been much that’s been entertaining. There will never be a shortage of overly-earnest talking heads, but earnestness isn’t going to attract anyone who doesn’t already agree. At this very weird social, political and economic juncture in American history, MEN have made a record that comments on homophobia and socio-economic stratification that is, amazingly, a lot of fun to listen to.
Around 2004, there was a moment where many of the bands from the then-insurgent dancepunk wave signed with bigger labels that didn't quite know what to do with them. So Radio 4 and Hot Hot Heat and, yeah, Le Tigre, aimed to make a dent in the dying alt-rock radio format, burnished off their edges, polished up their guitars, and cranked out records that worked as anonymous, lifeless versions of the fiery, exciting music that'd made them interesting in the first place. Of all those bands, Le Tigre might've been the saddest story.
MEN play Sneaky Dee's Saturday (March 12) at 10:15 pm as part of CMW. See listing. Rating: NN Men's debut full-length album with Le Tigre's JD Samson on vocals is a conceptual dance pop record whose major themes deal with queer and leftist politics - not your standard chart-making fare. Unfortunately, the album's only redeeming qualities arise from its conceptual elements.
Will last the distance longer than most base didactic slogan-pop ever has. Martin Aston 2011. JD Samson, the spearhead of MEN (and the sideline venture HIRSUTE) is the proud owner of a grizzly bear tattoo. And a rather dapper moustache. Samson is indeed her real surname. Frida Kahlo, eat your hairy ….