Friend And Foe – Menomena

Label: City Slang

This is the third Menomena album, although we’re fairly certain we won’t be delving into their back catalogue to find their origins, not after this introductory experience. The point is, you see, that this album is as close to faultless as an experimental – or probably more to the point giddy, adventurous, unrestrained – US indie-pop album can be. We don’t want them going and ruining it all with any early wobbles, not when we can avoid it. On one hand what we have here is a modern update of Folk Implosion’s underrated 1997 classic ‘Dare To Be Surprised’, a decade on. It’s all irresistible hijack-beats, double/triple/quadruple layer vocal fuzziness and winning melodies planted deep in the folds, executed with the kind of nonchalance generally displayed by those who can’t see through their fringes. And it definitely is all that, but it’s also more. It’s 15 or 20 years of alt.rock with some timeless aspects updated with modern reference points. 

The album opens with ‘Muscle & Flo’, a kaleidoscopic mesh of Elephant 6 collective styled high-wire melodic shudders and some truly riotous drums – which remain a thrilling, motivational constant throughout the record. It’s string up between pre-‘Soft Bulletin’ ‘Lips, the fried parts of Brian Wilson’s brain and the current beguiling awkwardness of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The whole album evokes much the same air that Beck did on his breakthrough ‘Mellow Gold’, swing low slacker soul keeping just enough of a cap on the eccentricity. Though it goes further. These songs are so densely shot with ideas and adrenaline, they remind us of Subtle’s or cLOUDDEAD’s post-hip-hop twists or even TV On The Radio’s vocal heavy everything-blend (take ‘Weird’ and ‘Boyscoutn’ as examples). These should really just be 12 glorious car-crashes, disfigured, shrapnel-lodged and unfathomable, and yet they come out so syrupy and suck-able. Either they’re geniuses or unquestionably lucky bastards with a magic lozenge on their hands.

Release: Menomena - Friend And Foe
Review by:
Released: 23 September 2007