Electro-Pop Trio Borrows Disco Beats, Recycles Past Tricks

By Tanner Cook

MEN
Talk About Body
IAMSOUND

The best of electro riot grrrl band Le Tigre perfectly paired feminist lyrics with raw and fiery synth punk, turning weighty issues into songs that were always catchy as hell.

Fortunately, side project MEN, fronted by Le Tigre member JD Samson, is not much different. With the help of Michael O’Neill (Princess, Ladybug Transistor) and Ginger Brooks Takahashi (LTTR, The Ballet), MEN’s debut, Talk About Body, blends Le Tigre’s radical roots with refined electronic beats and bass-lines straight from the disco sounds of Indeep’s “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life.”

“Life’s Half Price” starts the party right, as repetitive drums culminate in sweeping guitar and a dance-floor breakdown. Samson’s drawl is more monotone than the screech of Le Tigre front-woman Kathleen Hanna, but by the end of the track she gives imitation a shot: “I’m not your baby’s daddy / Free love / I’m not your baby’s daddy / free money!”

Samson’s roots are particularly evident on tracks like “Credit Card Babie$,” where she offers advice on gay parenting that mostly amounts to suggesting adoption and borrowing someone else’s cock. Like Le Tigre with its feminist focus, MEN makes it a point to show the struggles gays have with adoption and the assumptions the heterosexual majority has on the subject.

But the music itself is not nearly as radical. Scattered with tribal drumming, tuneful guitar riffs and club beats, Talk About Body has Samson trying on everyone else’s style instead of one that is distinctly her own. In tracks like “Simultaneously,” MEN even manage to borrow a couple of notes from the xx’s signature whispery guitar and soft vocals.

It would have served MEN better to craft an original style, rather than taking so heavily from past projects and contemporaries. Talk About Body weaves together raw punk and the synth drum patterns of disco, creating edgy buildups and therapeutic releases made for grooving. But MEN make no impact on the dance floor when they borrow so much from others and invent so little.

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