Sep 17, 2012 Issue #42 - The Protest Issue
Holy vitriol, Batman! Menomena's fifth full-length Moms doesn't hold back on the bile, the band aiming their acid tongues at unsatisfying lovers and the family tree. Why, it's enough to make matriarchs everywhere clutch at their pearls. That is, if their frank thesis ("I'm nothing more than an animal in search of another animal to tame and claim as my own") wasn't cloaked in such breezy, jazz-influenced instrumentals. Despite the departure of Brent Knopf (who programmed the software that helped them write debut album I Am the Fun Blame Monster!), remaining members Justin Harris and Danny Seim have created an album that's just as musically twisted and thematically perverse as their previous outings...and a whole lotta fun to sing along to.
Looking past the flute embellishments, thudding sax refrains, and several tonal shifts per song, Menomena is, at heart, a rock outfit. "Giftshoppe" starts with fingernails on the chalkboard-style string scratches, but the art school gesture is quickly replaced with pronounced percussion crashing guitars—all maintained in a carefully balanced, airy mix. While delivering a record number of uptempo tracks, Menomena still remains one of the most well thought-out bands working today, never sacrificing structure or composition in the name of delivering a series of power chords.
Although, all the squealing guitars in the world can't hide the fact that Moms—like Menomena's catalogue as a whole—is aimed squarely at the brokenhearted. "Baton" bears the brunt of the band's dissatisfaction, complete with the telling line "I wish that co-dependence could sustain us through the years," sandwiched in a saxophone-created bass line. Meanwhile, the three-act structure of "Skintercourse" takes the listener from a loveless relationship, to first attempts to disconnect the physical from the emotional, to a full embrace of a new, caustic lifestyle. Ultimately Menomena only confirms what many already know—that love and relationships are tricky—but damn if it isn't an interesting ride. (www.menomena.com)
Author rating: 8.5/10
Average reader rating: 8/10