Menomena have been one of the more creative mainstays in the indie rock circuit since their debut, I Am The Fun Blame Monster
" dropped way back in the early aughts. I was first introduced to them through "The Pelican", the shouty, off-kilter single from their last album and so was a bit surprised to hear how tame Mines
sounded at first. A lot of it, "TAOS" in particular, sounds relatively straightforward. Like blues-rock straightforward! But Mines
, isn't the sound of Menomena being wildly innovative as I expected. Rather, it's the sound of a band who sounds truly comfortable and confident in a sound that they are slowly perfecting.
"Lunchmeat" is a big standout with a deep, full-bodied bass tone, a simple overdriven guitar riff, a shaker, swell after instrumental swell all coming to a head in the last minute as the words "I roam" are sang over and over (there's an acoustic guitar interlude in there too. I've only scraped the surface of this track.) Menomena have become, in their way, masters at making order out of chaos. The specially designed software that they use to jam and write songs with is one of their eternal selling points, but you can hear how skilled they've become at utilizing it.
And it's easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of the band who are as known for the aforementioned software used in their songwriting process as for the actual songs that are produced as a result. What's clearer than ever on Mines
is that Menomena can actually pack an emotional punch. The delicate, marimba-led opening of "Tithe" is gradually joined by swelling piano chords and a spiky, emotive guitar as the band sings "beneath the door frame, waiting for earthquakes as the rapture comes and goes.../and nothing sounds appealing".
Each song clocks in around the four or five minute mark which can make the record feel a little overlong and samey during a casual listen but the band's attention to detail and their willingness to let each little drum fill or glockenspiel hit inhabit its own sonic space is a constant source of listening pleasure. And it is, in the end, the little moments that make Mines
such a strong album. A choice line from opener "Queen Black Acid" goes: "You're five foot five, not a hundred pounds/I'm scared to death of every single ounce". For Menomena, the little things are the big things. -ben krusling
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MP3: "Five Little Rooms"
Menomena on Myspace