I had tried to ignore reviewing this EP for the longest possible time, because I had no clue how the Men of Gentle Birth (formerly Blacks) were going to be able to re-created their tremendous live act. However, they have been paired up with the best production and mastering, allowing for them to shine in all the right places without necessarily opening up the tracks too far and losing some of the close-quarters sound that this disc has. The intense guitars of “Soft Target”, as well as the complete 180 that the band takes, are some of the most dramatic in-song antics that I’ve heard from a band. Even more so, the sloppy chaos that was the delightful beginning to the track is completely replaced by a very clean and technical interplay by the band; this is the technical equivalent of running the 40 and then pole vaulting. Another crowd favorite, “The Best Things In Life”, has been faithfully reproduced for this EP – the swirling guitars are reminiscent of early Edge and the bridge found on the track is by no exaggeration one of the most orgasmic experiences I’ve had. Ian’s vocals are wizened and when they are incorporated by the chorus of band and follower-s on. The resulting free-fall of increasing power and struggle between guitar and vocals leave only the drums alive at the end.
“Ne Travaillez Jamais”, a track that date almost before the founding of the current incorporation of the band, seems a little more rough than the rest of the tracks up to this point. However, the incorporation of random noise and ultra-professional guitar, bass, and drums make the track mix both Modest Mouse and II-Era Meat Puppets. Continuing the strong bass-presence with the Ian-sang “The Sad Lives of Desperate Men”, The Men of Gentle Birth incorporate every single facet of prior tracks that have made this EP so goddamned memorable. For example, the strong vocals, Geddy Lee-like bass lines, swirling eddies of guitar lines, and a shuffling pseudo-dance beat all make return appearances on “Men”, making it into a mini-epic. Men of Gentle Birth have successfully incorporated some of the most influential bands into their music, but good luck trying to find them. Over these grains of sand the Men have sublimated layers of mucus and saliva to create a lustrous pearl in this disc. I won’t be surprised if this, only three months in, is the best album of 2005.
Men of Gentle Birth – Ye Of Little Faith / 2005 Self-Released / http://www.greenapple.com/~dwolfe/blacks/ / Reviewed 01 March 2005