[PRESENT-TIME PUNKS] A familiar, jittery nervousness pulses throughout Woolen Men's most high-strung moments. And while it's still there on Temporary Monument, the band's second album for the venerable Woodsist label, it's relayed in a much different form. Subbing out the garagelike tendencies splayed open on the trio's 2012 self-titled effort, Woolen Men further embrace a spartan approach to their sinewy rock, while also escalating the elegiac tension only hinted at on earlier efforts.
As conspicuous as the refocusing has been, it's guitarist Lawton Browning's growing assuredness in his vocal delivery that's enabled "Life in Hell" to wind up being an album standout. All that jangled finery, with Alex Geddes' melodic bass figures wrapping around Raf Spielman's speedy beat-keeping, makes the track a torrent of rushed emotion. "After the Flood," "On Cowardice" and the album-closing "Walking Out" offer brief breaks from all the fast-paced punk stuff, with "Flood" coming off as both contemplative and accusatory of a culture the band perceives to have polluted its hometown.
The rest of the album isn't as somber, even as songs' narrators continue watching life pass them by, traverse an ever-evolving cityscape or don't go to college. There's a spate of antecedents informing Temporary Monument, but Woolen Men seem to have steered themselves into a genre ripple enabling the trio to channel something supremely candid and, most of all, present.
SEE IT: Woolen Men play Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Landlines and Honey Bucket, on Monday, Sept. 28. 9 pm. $5. 21+.