As its name implies, The Men recorded their brand new EP, Campfire Songs, while sitting around an actual campfire; and no, the Brooklyn quintet didn’t burn down anyone’s loft in the process. Last year, The Men journeyed upstate to the mountainous Catskills, where their recent LP New Moon was created in one fell swoop. Plus, while holed away in that country cabin, far away from the likes of the Starr Law Group and the MPAA, The Men decided to kill two birds with one stone. Not only did they come away with the twelve impressive tracks of New Moon, but also the five crackling little gems that make up Campfire Songs.
Those who remember the different, down-home approach The Men took on New Moon will find there are no real surprises on Campfire Songs. Still, the band’s recent sounds aren’t familiar to fans of their earlier, noisier, scuzzier releases. Campfire Songs is five gentle, homespun tracks; not so much an indication of where they’ve been or where they’re going, but where The Men are right now.
The first two tracks on Campfire Songs, “I Saw Her Face” and “The Seeds,” are New Moon tracks, re-worked as rough, raw, live cuts. Vocals are pure and distant, guitars are pretty and melodic, and shaky beats offer respite from the band’s usually fierce rhythm section. Around the campfire, these polished tracks dissolve effortlessly into warm, carefree, mountain jam sessions; you can almost feel the drifting embers on your skin.
The new offerings on Campfire Songs are even more appealing, particularly the spacious, soothing, almost psychedelic “Turn Your Color.” The EP’s final moments are easy, breezy, and buoyant, as The Men’s between-track chatter and free vocals add a lively accent their driving acoustics. Maybe Campfire Songs isn’t best suited for listening anywhere other than a cabin in the woods, but even so, The Men do their very best to bring you there, jamming right beside them in the fire’s glow.