20 for ’14: The Men – Pearly Gates

Part 5 of a 20 part rundown of my favourite tracks of last year

Tomorrow’s Hits may have been The Men’s most disappointing album so far but it was not without it’s highlights. They’re a little too inebriated with Americana and US heritage rock to be spreading their wings but they’re too damn good not to cough up a few gems whatever they’re doing. Pearly Gates is them going a little The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan on us, albeit Dylan by the way of The Replacements at their most reckless. The Freewheelin’ Men, as it were, sound like a band with one wheel missing, careening sideways through a mess of horns and piano jamming over a one chord stomp. They sound like the bar band in that perfect American dive bar out on some dusty highway that only exists in their minds. It’s a logical continuation of what they were doing on New Moon, but even at that record’s most ramshackle and loose they never sounded like they were having as much damn fun as this. It’s strangely situated on Tomorrow’s Hits – it sounds like a natural album closer, a lap of honour, a let-your-hair-down, jam-your-foot-on-the-gas, nothin’-to-lose let’s-just-fuckin’-go-for it curtain closer. But there’s two more tracks after it, neither of which come close to capturing the energy of Pearly Gates. It’s that kind of perverse decision that makes listening to The Men such a frustrating experience. But when they pull tracks like this out of the bag there’s really no option but to keep listening.