How does a record this retro sound like a new beginning? Temporary Monument, the new album by local faves Woolen Men, is one of the most important records of 1980; It stands tall and proud next to it’s forbearers The Jam, The B-52s, Violent Femmes, and The Ramones, yet is as different from them as they are from one another. Accomplished but not overpolished, it’s a 12-song sprint on a highwire that announces the band as familiar yet unique and full of lo-fi charm.
Opener “Clean Dreams” is both proclamation and challenge, expanding a two and a half-minute song into a 5:26 manifesto of high-tuned bass guitar, half-spoken vocals, and post-punk pop attitude. It’s a perfect microcosm of the album: hooks to burn, no-frills production, and most importantly a tone of morning-after sobriety borne not so much of rage as open-eyed resignation. “Alien City” (Ramonesy, 1:02), “University” (the chorus of “I know not everybody goes” seems like a guy trying to convince himself as much as a declaration, 1:24), and “Untitled” (“Step back till you fade away, that’s the way to save yourself” 1:15) get their points across without frills yet don’t sound truncated or cheated. “On Cowardice” functions as both memoriam to and condemnation of Spalding Gray and other creatives who suicide, with a guitar line that sounds as sincere as the lyric: nuanced but uncomplicated.
Temporary Monument voices powerlessness in the face of modern society—a protest album without a movement that finds its voice by ignoring the last 35 years of pop history. If that’s not punk, what is? »
– Eric Evans