The glorious thing about playing Chicago buzz band The M's debut for the first time is that it captures the thrill of discovery that the band itself must have had upon hearing its first home recordings. Coming together from the remnants of several blown-over Windy City pop bands, the group recorded and released a four-song EP and just kept pressing the record button thereafter. The original plan was to release two more successive EPs, but instead, The M's cobbled together a fabulously eclectic first album that starts and ends off strong every first and fourth song, with every second and third song not far behind (quite the rarity in the CD age, where most albums tend to sag in the middle like soft white underbellies).
The M's boast four able singer-songwriters, one of whom seems to favor the lo-fi, through-a-RadioShack-megaphone method of expression, while another sounds like the greatest limp-wristed front man since Ray Davies exposed well-respected men in frilly nylon panties. The rampant Kinks comparisons that have littered the band's press clippings are not entirely unfounded -- these homespun recordings seem to display more crunchy rhythm guitar per square inch than anything since Kinks Kontroversy, and the band's ringing endorsement for the "Banishment of Love" sounds like the "Village Green Preservation Society" in reverse, while also name-checking T. Rex's "Light of Love" in the process.
But The M's are much more than yesterday's apemen -- they can match the adenoidal splendor of modern-day noise merchants like Supergrass on "Holding On," or the weird and tender side of the Flaming Lips or Afghan Whigs on "Break Our Bones" and "Riverside," respectively. Judging from the evidence here, they can go toe-to-toe with just about any modern-day Britpop psych outfit and come out ahead. That they're not as overly hyped as The Strokes or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs might even serve them better in the long run, when these guys hit unsuspected new heights and maybe even get a recording budget.
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