The more the Men change, the more they stay the same. Over the course of a decade, the Brooklyn quartet have gone from rowdy noise rockers to Americana revivalists to fuzzed-out garage punks. As each phase came and went, founding members Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi continued to write hooky anthems that sounded like they should be wafting from classic muscle cars as they surge down a highway.
But where their previous efforts were thrillingly straightforward, their seventh album is clunky and digressive. True to its name, Drift ambles along without any sense of coherence or direction. It takes each of the band's established styles in slightly different directions, only to stall out at dead ends.
Drift comes closest to success when the band pushes into new genres. Opener "Maybe I'm Crazy" mines industrial unease from a muted synthesizer, while "Secret Light" ties a "Green Onions"-style riff to a dynamic Krautrock beat. But Perro and Chiericozzi don't have the lyrical chops to bring old approaches to new levels, and much of the album calls back to older, better work. With its steel-string acoustic guitar and rustic harmonica, "So High" would fit right in on New Moon if not for its rudimentary refrains. "Killed Someone" charges with the hard rock bluster of an Open Your Heart outtake, but it never delves into the kinky undertones that lend the track any semblance of personality.
At their best, the Men imbued borrowed styles with urgency and fervor. Drift attempts to conjure the same spirit, but it's too divided and derivative to be vital. (Sacred Bones)