If the essence of rebel music is rooted in reactionary behavior, the work of Sam McPheeters and Neil Burke is rebellion in the highest ranking. From their time spent fronting Born Against, the influential hardcore group that reigned from 1989 to 1993 and countered the self-righteous seriousness of the culture, to their later work in projects such as Wrangler Brutes and Men’s Recovery Project, the work of these two gentlemen has burst with raucous aplomb for nearly two decades.
Men’s Recovery Project’s The Very Best Of…, a forty-track retrospective covering a fraction of the group’s illustrious discography, is a fittingly uncomfortable listen. From the unmelodic synths dominating nearly every song to the eerie photographs of the band in various costumes, the record sums up the giant middle finger that was Men’s Recovery Project.
However, although the record does give testament to one of the more influential groups from the noise strain of post-hardcore, its sheer amount of content is overwhelming. On the group’s own anthem, “Men’s Recovery Project,” the hardcore influence of Born Against shines through but is met with a skronky repetition, pre-dating modern groups such as Burmese and XBXRX. “You Pay Attention to Me, Not Vice Versa” relies on repetition to buzz through echo-y chambers and drenched synthesizers.
By the end of The Very Best Of, it becomes clear that Men’s Recovery Project did not rewrite the books for technical achievement, nor for crafting explicitly political anthems. Like the freak-out scenes from classic episodes of Ren and Stimpy, the genius of the Men’s Recovery Project lies in the colorful backdrops that are both hilarious and terrifying.
Men’s Recovery Project on Myspace.com