The M’s | Future Women (Polyvinyl)

Sure, the M’s have the lo-fi buzz and crunchy riffs of a garage band, but their music is all about layers, and that’s just one of them.

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When the M’s released their self-titled debut (actually three EPs slapped together) on the Brilliante label, critics small and large claimed that the band was carrying the torch for just about every noteworthy British Invasion–era band that may have started in a garage. Many seemed to place the group on a pedestal right alongside such acts as the Kinks. Whoa, now. The Kinks? At a time when there’s no shortage of bands in the garage, that’s a distinction that ought not be tossed about all willy-nilly. Sounds like we may be jumping the gun here. And missing the point, besides.

Sure, the M’s have the lo-fi buzz and crunchy riffs of a garage band, but their music is all about layers, and that’s just one of them. There’s also the beautiful three-part harmonies piled on top of fuzzy, vaguely psychedelic guitars on top of string and horn arrangements and xylophones on top of a strapping rhythm section, and underneath it all lies an undeniable and sharp sense of melody. Try packing that all in the garage.

From first listen, the tracks on Future Women feel familiar (in a good way) and linger in your mind, bouncing around your head like sweaty bodies on a dirty dance floor. The group toes a fine line start to finish, balancing just the right amount of loose swagger and attitude with tight and total control. The M’s have a studied knack for songwriting for sure, and a way of playing with words that’s at times as compelling as their music.

The band’s reverence for their predecessors is clear and it may even feel a bit like the ’60s when the three front-M’s chorus together, but there’s no need to compare the M’s to a veritable explosion of groups some 40 years ago. They aren’t here to revive anything; they’re just adding more stories to a well-laid foundation.

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