The fact is, I really want you to like Menomena. In particular their latest, and third LP, Mines. I could go on and on about the songs, the amazing composition, the intricate sounds and layers they incorporate, about the fact that this is a band that uses a computer program one of the members invented himself and not just the setting on a synthesizer of some former piano prodigy who gave up his/her dreams to pursue a life in chillwave. But no, this is an album, a band, you must hear for yourself.
Posting a single track at the bottom of this page will only give you a taste—a glimpse—of what Mines, as a whole, encompasses. While Menomena may employ many of the same elements and sounds of their contemporaries (see: the resurgence of harmonies, piano, toms, etc.) they are not using them like anyone else. In the past I’ve admitted my hesitancy to engage in the fallback comparison of one band to another, but with Menomena it’s genuinely an illuminating/useful exercise. For here is a band whose appeal lies in equal parts for fans of TV on the Radio or Arcade fire, but by the same token, draws in those who may actively dislike the aforementioned, enjoying Memomena as something completely different, on a different level, and yet within the same structure. What makes the exercise in comparison really interesting is that should you to share this record with friends you’ll hear comparisons ranging from Animal Collective to The Black Keys, to Spoon to Yeasayer. Mines works as a collage of moments that in turn comprise songs thus forming a cohesive record.
But when narrowed down to simply a discussion of influences and/or contemporaries, it’s important not to allow Mines strong songwriting to become lost in the conversation. Album opener “Queen Black Acid,” when filed away, is a tormented love song. Quite simply, a man has put himself on the line to a woman he likes/loves and has been turned away, “I made myself an open book/ I made myself a sitting duck.” In truth, six of the albums eleven tracks are overtly somewhat tormented love songs. And also in truth, it’s kind of refreshing to see the candidness as well as the creativity in expressing what has been the most prominent and overused subject in songwriting. As the obtuseness of writing in “indie” rock grows, Menomena actually leave it pretty simply on the line — if you actually take the time to hear the lyrics over the musical bliss, this record makes a lot of sense. Something that is, sadly, exciting these days.
“TAOS,” a track riddled with metaphor, is equally filled with shirtsleeve lyric. There’s no mystery in, “underneath this fleshy robe lies a beast with no control/ I fed it once look how it’s grown/ oh my god, bring me peace from this wolf covered in fleece/ I can’t shake loose from its teeth/ oh my god, set me free/ I have no ability to cut my leash and walk away” but damned if it’s not telling not only of the general sentiment of this record — that of heartbreak by virtue of ones own faults — but also of Menomena’s sound.
As the record closes, first with the power-house “Sleeping Beauty” and then the piano/organ closer “INTIL,” the closing lines of the record resonate its themes: “times when I’m with you/ I’m really not myself/ cause you don’t want the truth/ you want someone else/ I admit sometimes I say too much/ I never thought I’d lie.” Hidden behind the mask of a starkly intricate and stunning fifty-four plus minutes, from the first track to the last, there is a relatable, honest portrayal of a band at this point in their lives and careers. The convergence of musical skill and personal emotions — not sentiments of vague generalities and nonsensical bombast — achieve that most elusive of rock adjectives: genuineness.
So if you had no idea what “Adobe Slats” are, or why, for that matter, they are considered “social stats” or why anyone would want them for their girls, then Menomena just might be right for you. words/ b kramer
MP3: Menomena :: TAOS