Cast your mind back to 2011 and the release of The Men’s Leave Home out on the Sacred Bones record label. It was a guttural record and an obvious exercise in not giving a shit (this much is evident just looking at song titles like ‘()’ and ‘Shittin with the shah’). Leave Home screamed its way through its 45 minute run time, with great big reverb soaked punk dollops splattered on top of one another in rebellious freeform. Often so freeform it was however, that it made little cogent sense in places and occasionally got lost under its own angst.

The defining feature that made Leave Home a great record though was its pure unabashed ambition and vigour, a trait that many feared The Men would lose with the release of a more ‘classic rock’ orientated album by the way of Open Your Heart. Fortunately the new album, while less raw in places, still carries the same oomph as the first, but with all the wayward rage concentrated into tight hooks and manifested into a rollicking rollercoaster of a record. This is obvious almost immediately with opener ‘Turn It Around’ a sonic youth tinged all out relentless rock song filled to the brim with guitar squeals and more intelligible vocals than we’re used to. It’s energetic, repetitive and everything you’d want from a big rock track as lyrics like “I wanna see you when you try so hard! I wanna see you when you Turn It Around!” are reeled off with pace to exhilarating effect. Title Track ‘Open Your Heart’ also produces a similar effect, despite rather shamelessly emulating the beginning of Buzzcocks classic ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ it’s the most sing-along you’ll ever find The Men, but in a way that isn’t at all cringe worthy, instead coming across as a joyous and honest pop track with soul-baring lines such as “There are no mirrors here, I am who I am”

Nods to previous material are dotted about here and there, such as the show no mercy styling of ‘Animal’. Impassioned vocals slash through the guitar work and crashing symbols, pleading “BITE MY SKIN!” before reaffirming “I’M AN ANIMAL!” multiple times like a beast throttling its cage. ‘Ex-Dreams’ too repeats the trick to a similar rousing effect, with a slightly more grunge orientated direction to it. These moments of aural assault are indeed stirring, but The Men employ a clever trick in their arsenal, to keep things from getting too samey.

In fact it’s the juxtaposition of more restrained tracks with the big noisy blasts that make this album far more listenable. For instance, following ‘Animal’ is ‘Country Song’, a song sounding like the soundtrack to a slowed down black and white western movie. The psychedelic reverberating guitars is little short of mesmeric and acts like a tranquillizer dart to settle down the chaos of ‘Animal’. There’s also the 7 minute ‘Oscillation’ a largely instrumental slow burner, with Ian Curtis like ramblings occasionally muttered over the top. It may fall over itself a bit, and doesn’t really pack any sort of coherent tune but when The Men want to do the whole hypnotizing psychedelic thing; they do it just as well as the big punk numbers.

The new found versatility marks this record out somewhat compared to previous offerings and feels like a more grown up band really coming into their own. The Men have crafted a wonderfully accessible record with increased focus and improved song writing, even if there is still more to be developed upon, this is a highly promising rung on the ladder to becoming DIY cult heroes.