Note: This is the band’s first major-label studio album, and it was produced by the legendary Rick Rubin (the guru responsible for overseeing landmark albums by a wide range of artists from Run DMC and Red Hot Chili Peppers to Johnny Cash and Dixie Chicks to Slayer).
Sound: Poppier, more electronic and more dancefloor-friendly than anything the punk-rooted threesome has done before. Guitars still chug, basslines still creep and Beth Ditto’s vocals still demonstrate her extraordinary howling power, but the radio-ready tunes frequently go disco, electro pop or new wave—while other times they rock in an arena-sized or grittier, aggressive way. The album has a surprisingly eclectic range of styles that manage to feel like they belong on the same disc.
Heavy Rotation tracks: “Men In Love”; “2012”
Medium Rotation tracks: “Pop Goes the World”; “For Keeps”; “Spare Me From the Mold”; “Heavy Cross”
Recommended: Moving in such a sleek, mainstream-friendly direction is certainly jarring for these indie stalwarts, but the music still has an undeniably visceral energy and excitement. The commercial appeal of Music for Men doesn’t undermine the fact that this is just a great excuse to hear Beth Ditto belt out 12 more songs.
Grade: A- (Top 20 Albums of 2009 Candidate)