Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi are probably the last guys on Earth who need a side project. Not only has the band they co-founded, the Men, maintained a prolific rate of production (with five albums and two EPs in the past five years), they’ve been able to bend its sound to satisfy their every passing whim, be it loogie-hocking scum-punk, wood-cabin country rock, atomic psychedelia, or old-school ’80s indie. And yet, they’re not ones to spend their days off between tours getting caught up on “The Walking Dead”. Much of their downtime since 2010 has been devoted to Dream Police, where, with the help of producer Kyle Keays-Hagerman and a trusty drum machine, they’ve been workshopping song ideas that exist on the peripheries of the Men’s elastic sound, but aren’t really suited to that band’s five-man attack.
While Perro and Chiericozzi have previously issued Dream Police material in limited-edition cassette runs, they couldn’t have picked a better time to release their first proper album for Sacred Bones. On last spring’s Tomorrow’s Hits, the Men sounded like they were settling into a cozy, classic-rock cul de sac, sanding down the edges of their punk and country influences into an easy-going boogie. Though it was a notable adjustment, it didn’t open up any unexplored avenues for the band. So the robotic rhythms, laser-beam synths, and industrialized guitar noise that form the foundation of Hypnotized introduce welcome new dimensions to Perro and Chiericozzi’s sonic palette, and encourage a renewed streak of irreverent experimentation for a couple of guys who appeared to be digging in their heels. But while Hypnotized nudges Perro and Chiericozzi out of their established comfort zone, it also has the effect of making you appreciate the tightened-up craft and finely curated song selection they exhibit with the Men.
Hypnotized proves be a far more eclectic affair than initially suggested by its title-track single, which is exactly the sort of electro-blooze stomp you’d expect from a couple of scruffy rockers tinkering around with synthetic beats. The spectrum here spans Teutonic post-punk to somber psych-folk (really, pretty much every subgenre of rock except the arena-ready power-pop suggested by Dream Police’s Cheap Trick-nodding name), but several songs simply stretch out a one-note idea until there’s nothing more to do: the bass-grooved “My Mama’s Dead” imagines “Hey Joe” being half-remembered by a megaphone-wielding Mark E. Smith; “John” is a repetitious blues swing akin to the Stooges’ “I Need Somebody”, but sapped of the menacing desperation. And though Dream Police carry over the Men tradition of penning acoustic odes to girls, the downcast lysergic lullaby “Iris” (appended with what can only be described in 2014 as “beer-commercial guitar“) and highlands-bound hymn “Sandy” (a church-bell-clanging duet between Chiericozzi and Brooklyn artist Holly Overton) feel more random and out of place in this mechanized context than they would on a Men record, suggesting Perro and Chiericozzi may need to start yet another, folk-focused project to accommodate their unplugged urges.
The most successful experiments here don’t simply add tech textures to Perro and Chiericozzi’s guitar grind, but use them to reshape it, and invest the duo’s muscular crunch with a more androgynous energy: “Pouring Rain” folds early-’80s skinny-tie standards like A Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran (So Far Away)” or Martha and the Muffins’ “Echo Beach” into late-’80s post-hardcore screech, while “Let It Be” is a glorious Neu!-wave instrumental that reroutes the Autobahn through the American heartland, its synth-smoothed pave job nicked with countrified slide-guitar licks. Of course, it figures that a couple of studious rock historians like Perro and Chiericozzi would cop a title that their heroes the Replacements likewise stole from the Beatles. But in this case, the song is less an explicit tribute to the classics of yore than an embodiment of the title’s contented, live-and-let-live sentiment—and an indicator that Dream Police do their best work when roaming lawless fantasias.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/142VVkT