“Orange juice is the centre of the world” sings MEN front-woman JD Samson and I feel I have to agree with her having been ill for the past week and relying on vitamin C to keep my spirits up. Not only has the orange juice kept me feeling bright, but listening to Brooklyn-based MEN’s debut full-length, Talk About Body, has certainly lifted my mood.
As I sip on yet another glass of juice I think back to a few years ago when I was listening to Le Tigre, (remember them?) JD Samson’s previous band with riot grrrl legend Kathleen Hanna. Whilst what they did was fun, they never cemented themselves into the music hall of fame.
However, fast forward a few years and what you have is MEN, an essentially more polished and dare-I-say-it, mainstream Le Tigre that will go on to have success if they keep producing such catchy, fist-pumping songs that wouldn’t be out of place on any dance floor.
Not only are tracks such as Credit Card Babie$ and My Family fantastic to dance to, they also embody the often unexplored issues of the trans-gendered community as well as lesbian parenting and other LGBT matters. With lyrics that are at times confrontational and in your face, such as “Why don’t you adopt/ borrow someone’s cock/ call up the bank?” and “changed our names/ used our hands/ we found options that were better than a man.”
Unfortunately they are one of the few bands raising these issues, and Talk About Body is sure to provide some much needed support for the audience that it MEN are hoping to reach. Samson never shies away from the ever-present gender issue that often surrounds her (in case you don’t know, JD Samson is a woman with a moustache, you may have seen her in Shortbus) and gives a fresh, and important view on gender politics as well as socio-economic issues throughout the album
It is not all singing and dancing, the album has some more sultry songs that have clearly been influenced by Mercury Prize winners The xx. Simultaneously would not be out of place on the London bands debut album xx whilst If You Want Something bridges the gap between the more dance inducing tracks and those more subdued ones.
Whilst the melodies are at times repetitive, MEN have produced a quality arty-pop-synth album that is incredibly accessible to everyone. It achieves more for the LGBT community than Lady Gaga’s self-proclaimed “gay anthem” Born This Way and incorporates a wide range of musical references from punk, disco and dub. Talk About Body is feminist activism at its sexiest and most accessible.