The Woolen Men

Temporary Monument

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Although Temporary Monument is only their second proper LP, Portland-based lo-fi punks the Woolen Men managed to crank out a pair of EPs and a split single in the two years since their self-titled 2013 debut. Their prolific, no-nonsense style, heavily reminiscent of Pacific Northwestern forebears Dead Moon and the Wipers, is deeply entrenched in the D.I.Y. aesthetic, and producing nearly an album's worth of new material in between albums seems par for the course. Sonically, Temporary Monument is a logical successor to their debut, with a slightly crisper edge and less garage-laced reverb to hide its rough edges. Musically, the Woolen Men bash out their jangling, melodic odes with the kind of succinctness that only a trio can give them, occasionally lasting little more than a minute as on "The Desert" and "The Dissolving Man." The additional instrumentation and overdubs are few, with occasional stabs of organ melody accenting songs like the lonesome, eerie standout "After the Flood," which is probably the album's most aurally diverse track. As for the overall tone, the band carry on with a rather disillusioned air, laying their frustrations bare on the album's accompanying press release which grimly states "Music today is rendered powerless -- white noise made in the echo chamber, for the great Smooth Face that gazes once and moves on." It's a powerful statement and it provides context for the album's title, relegating their art to the ephemeral almost before it has a chance to succeed. "Temporary Monument," the title cut and defining message, is also the album's most passionate track as the band react to the real estate boom of Portland (and many other cities) that has priced and pushed them out of what was once a nurturing artistic environment. With its tough post-punk groove, it's a rallying cry for the disenchanted, and while the sentiment is echoed in a handful of other tracks, much of Temporary Monument refuses to catch fire, making for a somewhat uneven listen.

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