The Woolen Men are a deceptive lot. Their eponymous record’s opening track, “Mayonnaise”, is full of sunkissed guitar tones, idyllic sounds that represent the suburban image the song rails against. It’s a tuneful start to an album that then can’t sit still, jumping from the angular eccentricity of “Hold It Up” to the jangling dust of “Hazel” to the lo-fi fuzz of “Drunkard’s Dream”. They’re a band that seems to run through as many tangents from recent rock music as they can come up with, and the results are catchy and well-executed enough to catch you off guard. The issue becomes, though, that in all this genre hopping and opposition—there’s a lot of not wanting here, of decrying without standing up for some alternative view—it’s hard to tell who the Woolen Men are. As their title suggest, they are well insulated but more from us, perhaps, than the outside world. The singing can be sweet and approachable (as on “Mayonnaise”) but too often slips into arch speak-singing that doesn’t seem either ironic or sincere enough to work. The Woolen Men is a band that knows well the sounds it wants to make, though what the bands says with those sounds, what they reveal, is still unclear.
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// Notes from the Road
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