We are homesick most for the places we have never known. - Carson McCullers

Past-fetishism, nostalgia. It's the reason the UK's current number one, as sung by five preening, applecheeked urchins barely on the cusp of their twenties, is a rehash of two tracks released fifteen years before said urchins were born. It's the reason garage rock came back, the reason New Romanticism came back, the reason rave came back, each latest version spackling the cracks left by erstwhile urgency with cynicism, marketing bumph for a generation who weren't there the first time round, and jealous for that vital buzz. Making copies of copies of copies, as Tyler Durden had it (and hey, maybe we can start getting sentimental about that film (yes, the film) again, fourteen years old, first fresh in its fire and fury, then stale through overexposure, and now perhaps fresh again through the miracle lenses of those pinkish spex. Your call.) But Hell, few of us are exempt. Nostalgia, McCullers' homesickness, is a part of the reason I buy vinyl (and I will not accept that it's not part of the reason you buy vinyl too). It's part of the reason that, when drunk, I like to listen to music I'm already familiar with. It's an insidious disease and a sickening flaw, but damned if I know how, or if I even want, to cut myself loose.

The Men do not deal in nostalgia, but you could be forgiven for thinking so. Reason one: if the rash of comparisons to acts past that bubbled up in the wake of last year's Open Your Heart didn't fool you, then some of the songs on New Moon just might. First track 'Open The Door' is tender, pastoral loveliness (yeah, really), a gentle Creedence shamble through rolling, green America. It's sunshine on red barns, pearly smiles, driving with the top down. As if its title isn't signifier enough, 'High And Lonesome' revels in sentimentality, a wistful daydream of far-off Hawaii, a longing for the ease of assured warmth and loving. 'The Seeds', like 'Candy' before it, is another softly rollicking, fiddle-less version of the Stones' 'Country Honk'. All of this is as far removed from the terrifying sneer of 'Animal' or Leave Home's wilful dissonance as is possible.

Reason two: with nostalgia comes vulnerability. On New Moon, The Men sound more vulnerable than they ever have, and not just through the softening of their tones. While 'Half Angel Half Light' cranks the gain back up to 'jet engine' after 'Open The Door's haystack jam session, The Men's voices are front and centre, no longer hiding under fuzz, and we're told in no uncertain terms of their drinking, their indulgence to the point of surrender, and there is no glamour in their wastedness, just the failure of their vices to hold back the inexorable tide of real life. 'Bird Song' gurgles self-doubt over the best thing The Band never wrote, a bittersweet barroom jaunt packed with clanking electric piano and drunken slide, while 'I Saw Her Face' sees The Men pitching a straight-up Zuma-era Crazy Horse rip. The lexicon of longing is here too, as they beg to be taken away to that special place. For a band who have sounded both blackly malevolent (Leave Home) and consummate masters of their art (Open Your Heart), it's devastating and wonderful to hear The Men strip back the aggression and acclaim and present themselves as their namesake, as humans.

But The Men know that really, nostalgia is weakness. It prevents anything new from happening, anything truly creative, because we're content to rest in the warmth and safety of what's familiar. So naturally, they have to let us know that they haven't gone limp, that they're still using noise as a weapon. Just when you think you know how to file 'I Saw Her Face', just when the song's drive at escapism has built to the point of inevitable deflation, The Men switch up from rangy, loose-limbed jamming and propel their Sampedro-aping guitars forward at the thunderous speed of punk. The cymbals that burst through 'Without A Face' are the gnashing teeth of demons, swallowing distortion while a harmonica spits acid. "There's nothing you can do," yelp The Men, as if it wasn't already obvious. The closest thing I can equate 'The Brass' to is two giant mutant dinosaurs, levelling a city. This isn't a metaphor. The guitars, roaring at each other across the speakers, sound almost exactly like Godzilla, the rhythm section smashing masonry.

It is 'Supermoon', however, that is New Moon's pinnacle, placed so rightly at the record's close, a startling collision of the revered past and murky future. Guitars shriek, punch gated noise over an animalistic straight beat and a groove that's cyclical like a trip is cyclical, small variations that turn in on themselves and reroute and end up the same. Listening to 'Supermoon', I realise that I am trying to wield a broken rhetoric. Phrases like 'electrifying', 'white-knuckle' and 'thrillride' have been stripped of all weight for years now. It seems appropriate to do as The Men do, to mash together a couple pop culture references: if you ever felt like this, 'Supermoon' is the soundtrack to this.

On New Moon, The Men jettison the nostalgic baggage of their influences by being a sonic patchwork quilt (and by out and out pure harsh noise) – their sounds are so varied that they avoid being lumbered with one dead scene or another, getting your brain doing bunnyhops from time period to time period with all the attendant motion sickness, until you learn how to ride it out. And ride it out you will, because The Men are men, humans; they've opened the door for you, and this time, instead of commanding us to open our hearts, they have opened theirs.