Men: Talk About Body
When I think of unimaginative band names, groups like Girls, Women, and now, Men. Men was founded by Le Tigre‘s JD Samson, The Ladybug Transistor‘s Michael O’Neill, and Ginger Brooks Takahashi from The Ballet. With such a pedigree of talent members, you would think the band would have been able to come up with a better name than Men. But alas, perhaps they put their creative juices to better uses like their debut album, Talk About Body.
I think some people will be mad at me for calling the group’s name unimaginative. I understand that there is more than irony going into the choice to call an all girl band, Men. Le Tigre is known for their feminist content and Men is clearly cut from the same cloth. Much of Talk About Body is drenched in feminist messages. “Take Your Shirt Off” is about the struggle of women to balance sexuality and self-respect. As JD Samson sings over and over again “Take your shirt off/Don’t take your shirt off”, it is like taking a glimpse into the mind of a women while being sexually pressured by men at Mardi Gras or a concert or any public gathering where men find it appropriate to chant “take it off” at a woman.
Other tracks like “Who Am I to Feel So Free” smack of the LGTB struggle in America. The lyrics become graphic with stanza like “change our names/use our hands/we found options that are better than a man/radical surgery/prosthetic sex/we built this world and are asking your bliss” but this is still the type of in your face lyrical content that made riot grrrl groups in the 90s so successful.
My big problem with the album is not lyrics but rather it is the music. The band has the same dance-punk format as Le Tigre but it does not have the same energy. The Bloc Party-esque guitars are sadly betrayed by JD Samson’s voice which seems to have an emotionless, monotone delivery. The lyrics have a rallying cry feel and yet are delivered as though Samson is reading the Patriot Act aloud.
In the end, it is hard for me to rate this album. In a world where LGTB teenagers are committing suicide at a dangerous clip, it is important to have strong role models like Samson. At the same time from a music critic perspective, the album is lacking in many aspects.
MP3: Men “Who Am I To Feel So Free”
Buy: iTunes or Amazon
Men: Talk About Body