For the first time in five years, The Men aren’t looking for tomorrow’s hits. Well, that’s not entirely true: The New York rock band is very much focused on “Tomorrow’s Hits,” its cheekily titled fifth album. But when that record drops on Tuesday, it will be the first time since their 2010 debut, “Immaculada,” that The Men won’t have another album in the can.
“ ‘Leave Home,’ when that came out [in 2011], we had already finished ‘Open Your Heart,’ ” singer and guitarist Mark Perro says. “By the time ‘Open Your Heart’ came out [in 2012], we had just finished ‘New Moon’ and we recorded ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ in December 2012, before ‘New Moon’ even came out [in 2013]. We were always playing catch-up. The stuff we were really excited for, by the time it came out, we were moved on to something else. … We just got completely burnt out.”
The Men took a slight break last fall, but are already back on the road. Ahead of Monday’s gig at the Rock and Roll Hotel, Perro walked Express through the new album, track by track.
With the opening, hard-edged guitar riff and a harmonica solo, “Dark Waltz” sounds like a continuation of last year’s “New Moon” and a thesis for the new album. “To me, that song really represents where we were at as a band, at that moment,” Perro says. “We really locked in together when we were recording that song.”
‘Get What You Give’
The most straight-forward rock song on the album, “Get What You Give” boils The Men down to their basics: “I always described us as just a band,” Perro says. “When you start saying you’re this type of band, then people start getting all upset when you put out a record that doesn’t sound like your last record. So I’ve always thought of us in a much more general sense. It’s a band of dudes playing music — nothing too crazy about it.”
With the help of a horn section, The Men channel their inner E Street Band on “Another Night,” easily the group’s most accessible song (and one befitting the album’s title). Perro says the band had been wanting to record with horns and the timing just finally worked out. “If there’s ever a time to try it, this song felt like a song that’s screaming for it — and we just went with it,” he says.
Though most of the album was written during three months of grueling rehearsals in Perro’s Brooklyn bedroom, “Different Days” was the lone track The Men recorded that was already a live staple. “It was actually recorded almost as an afterthought because that was just a song that was already in our set,” Perro says. “We finished [recording] early [and said] let’s do ‘Different Days,’ which is funny because it ended up being a big part of the album.”
Perro plays piano and sings on this twangy, restless track that best represents his mental state during recording. “The songs that I wrote and contributed lyrics to … they all came from the same place,” Perro says. “A relationship was ending, I was feeling very, I don’t know, negative.”
“Tomorrow’s Hits” was recorded live-in-studio in just two days, and the recordings are mostly single takes. The Men ran through this punky blues song just three times before picking the final version. “ ‘Pearly Gates’ is one of those songs that kinda needs that spontaneity,” Perro says. “You take that energy out of it and it’s just a blues song.”
‘Settle Me Down’
With a hypnotic country-rock vibe, this is the closest The Men come to balladry on “Tomorrow’s Hits.” “I was really into the groove of that song,” Perro says. “I think that’s the best part about it. We tried to have something chill, as cliche as that is, but that still moves, and being in a trance is an awesome reaction to it.”
“Going Down” brings the album to a close by going back to what The Men do best: rock out. “I think we wanted to end on a jammer,” Perro says. “At the end it kind of fades out, the boys are soloing — I think that’s a good example of the kind of band we are.” RUDI GREENBERG (EXPRESS)
Rock and Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE; Mon., 8 p.m., $15; 202-388-7625.