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Bond Had His Q, We Have The M's

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 23, 2006 7:08PM

2006_02_thems.jpgChicago has had a fair number of “next big thing” bands lauded nationally in the last few years and, unfortunately, most of them either end up disappointing (hello Redwalls) or largely ignored (sorry OkGo). One group that has fallen in neither of the preceding categories is The M’s, although given the perilously long time that has elapsed between the release of their debut (which was basically three EPs cobbled into album format) and their sophomore effort Future Women, we began to fear that they would be the rare group to fall into both categories. On top of that, while we were fans of the band’s live show – and in fact it was their live show that converted us into fans in the first place – a lackluster set at last year’s Intonation Festival had us worrying that the boys didn’t have what it took to extend a career beyond the initial flash of recognition.

We needn’t have worried so much.

Future Women is a far more cohesive album than their debut, but that would be expected given the first album's quilted construction. What is surprising is that the band has taken its shambolic, shaggy aesthetic and used it to create songs that build on fuzzed-out promise and deliver concise pop structures that leap from beneath the rubble. Too Pitchfork fer ya? Okay, let us rephrase that. The M’s write kick-ass pop songs straight out of the ‘70s that would make Marc Bolan cry with jealousy. Well, post-’74 Bolan at least.

So the album is out of the way and it not only delivers the goods; it brings the goods through the door, sets the table, tucks in your bib and spoon feeds said goods to you until you’re so stuffed and content and gratified you couldn’t eat another bite. Not even a wafer-thin mint. But what about the live show? As we said, the last time we saw them we were a tad underwhelmed.

We suspect we are needlessly worrying again though since the group sharpened its teeth recently with a month-long Monday night residency at Schuba’s. Tomorrow night we predict they will be firing on all cylinders as they take the stage at The Empty Bottle to celebrate this week’s release of Future Women.