Monday, January 15, 2007

Reviews:: Menomena Friend and Foe

I have to admit, I was a little weary about getting involved with the new Menomena record – Friend and Foe. The promo picture of the three of them in the tub and the critical acclaim of the other records left me waiting for a fall off. Were they going to go too far and become too experimental? Or maybe not far enough and meander back into simple pop sounds and become more accessible.

Somehow they managed to do both – exceeding my expectations and creating a more innovative, quirky, but at the same time catchy and addictive record. Built upon the support of spurts of spastics drums, Menomena manages to add in the perfect sound at the perfect time, whether it’s keys, samples, guitar, horns or vocal harmonies.

The album starts with the cleverly titled, Muscle n’ Flo, and the simple drum back beat is gradually paired with guitar warbles, piano plunks and horns. Added at once the sounds would be too much, instead, the trio’s textures and layers fade into each other, replacing one seamlessly with another.

It’s funny, but even though everyone compares the trio to Spoon and the Lips, but the hip-hop influenced drums and vocals remind me of Blur’s recent output. Wet and Rusty sounds like a hidden Albarn gem – the gentle xylophone, the great acoustic riff, the piano – but the percussion is all Menomena. That’s what so great about this record. You can hear so many influences, but never does the band come off as another act trying to reproduce a sound or style that has already worked.

The album simply continues to slowly grow. The quick-hitter Running, is an almost spoken word piece over a hip hop drum line that tosses in doorbells and cow sound effects, hovering close to an explosion, before the band pulls the reigns and begins to restrain themselves. This is a style the band uses effectively, as sounds and rhythms crescendo to the brink on tracks like Evil Bee and amazing The Pelican, before collapsing upon itself and starting again. It’s an album that sounds like it should be a challenge to ingest, but instead, the biggest challenge is getting the songs out of my head.

Check these guys out at Pat’s Pub February 3rd.
MP3:: The Pelican
MP3:: Wet and Rusting via Barsuk records

Posted at 6:04 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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