The M's - Real Close Ones
Record Label: Polyvinyl Records
Release Date: June 3, 2008
There are very few, if any, bands currently playing music that can meld '60s britpop with Flaming Lips psychedelia and have it sound effective, warm, and engaging. That was, of course, until Chicago’s The M’s burst onto the music scene in 2002. Starting out on the Chicago label Brilliante Records, the band released a series of EP’s and then their debut self-titled full length. Shortly thereafter, they secured a spot opening up for Wilco, and then things took off. They were signed to Polyvinyl and released Future Women, and soon the press started buzzing.
After taking some time off, they’re at it again with Real Close Ones, a brilliant slice of McCartney-esque harmonies and Kinks-inspired riffs. Call it fuzzy, scruffy, scrappy, gritty, garagey, bluesy, or what have you; the point is, The M’s continue to step it up with each release and consistently prove that there are few bands in America better at what they do than them. There’s equal parts R&B, funk, garage-rock, and Phil Spector-inspired pop on this album. Its variety and its depth are what makes it so astounding.
From the horn-fueled, dance-heavy groove of opening track “Big Sound,” to the contemplative “Papers,” to the spacey “Pigs Fly,” The M’s put together 13 nuggets of ear candy. The album has very few, if any, missteps. Even on songs like the quirky “Ultraviolet Man” and the bizarre “Naked,” there are sonic treats like strings and chimes that color the sonic palette exquisitely. And for every subtle misstep there is a home run waiting in the wings, like the ever-infectious “Get Your Shit Together” or the vibrant romp, “Breakfast Score.” After tackling six-minute jams on their earlier releases, Real Close Ones is a departure in that it’s laden with brevity. Few songs are more than three-and-a-half minutes and quite a few fade away before the songs even take off. For most artists this would be a negative, but for The M’s, it’s nothing short of spectacular.
The band’s best asset is their humility; lead singer Josh Chicoine credits drummer Steve Ludwig’s drum kit for their effortless retro-sound and maintains that, at their core, the band is just four drinking buddies that got together in a basement and try not to take themselves too seriously. Hard to dislike a band that thinks like that. While Real Close Ones is not quite as strong as Future Women, its definitely another step in the right direction and another head-turning release.