Menomena – Friend And Foe (2007): Review

Portland Oregon is the rainy home for a thriving group of Indie Rock bands who are critically making their mark Stateside, and three piece prog/popsters Menomena have been widely touted as the next thing. They’ve signed to a bigger label (Barsuk) for this, their third original LP which will ensure greater exposure to their experimental music, challenging rhythms, and exploratory use of a multitude of instruments. Each band member (Danny Seim, Justin Harris, and Brent Knopf) is a multi-instrumentalist, and although difficult to pin down, you’ll find Beach Boys pop harmonies, mixed with Flaming Lips individualism and occasionally the raw power of early Radiohead. Built on tight cohesive melodies, the threesome push the sensory process by honing the listener to the startling methods in which they interpret each song, ensuring that every track is a new discovery. For example, the opener “Muscle ‘N Flo” gathers one’s attention via the violent drum track, brutally picking the song apart into segues of satisfying musical inspiration, a sweet Piano melody gently holds the song together, until the next tub bombardment.

Each composition is treated to its own musical interpretation by using a particular instrument in a drastic effort to reach for something original and interesting, be it wild saxes, complex rhythms or heavily treated guitar. The band create moments of space, and fill them with at least a restless, eccentric horn or dark piano melody to break from the straightforward. And yet for all its avant-gardism, “Friend And Foe” contains some intensely sweet moments. “Boyscout’n” with its funny Seven Dwarves whistling refrain, “Evil Bee”, the anger of “The Pelican”, “West”, and the stand out “My My” which contains the most delicious piano close out; simple yet immersing (something that’s repeated on a number of tracks).

Menomena have made an Indie / Prog / Pop / Rock hybrid. Exactly!! You can’t categorize it, and that’s what makes “Friend And Foe” an absolute delight.

8/10

1 Muscle’n Flo 4:22
2 The Pelican 3:39
3 Wet and Rusting 3:33
4 Air Aid 4:44
5 Weird 3:05
6 Rotten Hell 4:18
7 Running 1:52
8 My My 3:48
9 Boyscout’n 5:18
10 Evil Bee 4:45
11 Ghostship 2:28
12 West 5:51

Wet And Rusting

My My

Muscle’n Flo

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