Friday, 31 August 2012

Menomena - Moms (Album Review)

Boulder Canyon, you made a son out of me, I had a mother who swam in your streams, I know the ending yet I'm faking suspense...

Menomena return with their fifth studio album Moms, minus founding member Brent Knopf and with a bigger and bolder sound than before. There's less of the cut 'n' paste approach to crafting songs that's become their trademark, ironically despite one third of the band departing this is the most unified and confidant they have ever sounded. Previous album Mines was perhaps their most serious, ditching the overarching playfulness of Friend and Foe for a tense and moody atmosphere. Don't let the title of Moms fool you though, this album is a powerful beast of chugging riffs, crashing percussion and intricate sound design and this time around the playfulness, experimentation and bizarre tendencies of Menomena's earlier work have crept back in to the foreground, married with a rejuvenated exuberance that makes this their most exciting and perhaps best record yet.

Opening track Plumage is an immediate, upbeat and catchy reintroduction, complete with handclaps, fuzz guitar, arpeggiated synths and quirky lyrics; "I once was tragically hip and beautifully fine, now my beautiful hips are tragically wide." Capsule begins with a sleazy strummed guitar on maximum overdrive before being snatched away and replaced with a stuttering beat and tight bassline. In just over four minutes the track incorporates blues influenced chords, lush piano, booming sub-bass, prog-rock breakdowns complete with woodwind flourishes and more of those quirky lyrics; "no more trophies as the consolation fantasy, like a nervous random stranger at a gloryhole." There isn't a single song here that doesn't showcase something new or reinforce the band's knack for left-field songwriting and composition.

Standout tracks include the emotive lead single Heavy is as Heavy Does, which gradually builds with intensity to an epic climax, the theatrical and twisted Don't Mess With Latexas and the stunning and sublime closer One Horse which features cinematic string arrangements and sombre lyrics; "you always drank alone, you were a one-horse town." Across ten tracks Moms not only reminds us of all the things that previously made Menomena such a special band but armed with a more organically cohesive and confidant approach to recording they have managed to step into new territory and completely own it. It's extremely exciting to see a band maintain such a consistant level of brilliance in their output and judging by this latest LP Menomena are certainly one of the most talented and unique acts around.

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