Well, you can’t accuse Menomena of being predictable. Track two on Moms, Capsule, begins with a skuzzy garage riff torn from the pages of a guitar zine from the early ‘80s, but then it flips the script, finishing up with jazz flute skipping over strong, rolling syncopation. Tantalus rolls along, indulging in its trippy prog-rock epicness before abruptly finishing, leading into the delicate piano opening of Don’t Mess With Latexas (which morphs into a strange, foot stomping spaghetti western track).
The record finishes up with a woozy cinematic slow-burner called One Horse, a sombre piece laced with sinewy strings and a steady build-up of reverbed guitar doodling. As usual, they pack in plenty of instrumentation (unfortunately not enough sax) that allows them a huge range of dynamics to play with. Shining horns and sparkling piano peacefully coexist with lonely guitar plucking, and tonally there’s a playful tug of war between expansive explosions of noise and muted buzzing passages. Both are effective weapons they employ to try and express complex emotional themes of family and (dis)connection.
They really shine though when they let everything fly off the handle. Like Bill Murray carrying around an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back catching ghosts, Menomena fearlessly wield enormous power (artistically speaking) to grapple with the ghosts of personal familial strife with wild streams of potent musical energy, trapping them within the tight confines of four minute power pop songs. And like Murray, they do it with a wry sense of humour and style (listen to Skintercourse for proof).
There’s an almost drunken swagger to the Portland group this time, and despite Moms’ overarching theme of loss, they still sound ok with everything, and have produced their most upbeat record to date.
Free daily music news
© 2012–13 Street Press Australia Pty Ltd