Menomena
Mines


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tyler Munro EMERITUS
August 16th, 2010 | 137 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This album is almost as fun to listen to as it is to say the band's name ten times fast. Menomenamenamenomenamenamenomenamenaetc.

As a matter of circumstance, Menomena were described to me as being a more 'interesting' Kings of Leon. And yes, sometimes they sound quite a lot like Kings of Leon and sometimes there's enough happening beneath their relatively orthodox rock rhythms to deem it 'more' interesting. As far as comparisons go, this one's doing nobody any favours. Not only does it cheapen Kings of Leon more than radio saturation ever could (or already has) but it emphasizes Menomena's process to a fault---not to their own, but instead to those interested in the ends of a song as much as its means.

Menomena is a band whose success relies quite heavily on their process, which for what it's worth---probably more than it should be---is pretty cool. The three members of Menomena all share vocal and instrumental duties, switching up who does what at will. There's certainly no shortage of talent to be found on Mines. To make their varied approach work, they employ a looping program called Deeler. All of this is impressive and unique enough, but what I'm bothered by is the notion that their music is automatically elevated to levels of greatness simply because of the process. In some cases it can, and is, true; harkening back to an earlier description, openers “Queen Black Acid” and “Taos” sound quite a bit like Kings of Leon, but the former's varied percussion and wavering piano paired with the latter's energetic, intermittently placed blues licks, piano rolls and three part harmonies take two already solid rock tracks and elevate them to a higher level of excellence and run on sentences. Actually, “Taos” is the best example of this idea---showing the band succeeding with their energy as much as their studio wizardry, since it takes as much compositional ability to appropriately introduce a saxophone to a rock song as it does production skill to ensure it won't sound awful. “Killemall” threatens the opposite; the track's jogged pace and dreary aesthetic works on its own, making the occasional organ lines sound more than halfway ridiculous. Two thirds, maybe.

The over publication of Menomena's use of Deeler fails to mention the solid foundation on which their songs are written. Furthermore, it placates the band's faults and puts them on an imaginary higher plane, allegedly immune to any criticism because any detractors obviously just don't 'get it'. Deeler, in some cases, is explained in such a way that it becomes a crutch that gives their benefactors ground to turn their noses down to anyone who'd be so 'bold' as to refer to the band as 'merely' a rock band and one that handcuffs them into using modifiers like 'more interesting'.

The band has obviously found a balance their fans have yet to embrace. Or realize. Or accept. When that balance fluxes into an overuse of 'variety', songs like “Lunchmeat” become tedious exercises. While “Lunchmeat” is ultimately one of the stronger tracks on Mines, the minute plus of noodling in its intro is a useless throwaway. Sure, it introduces some of the loops and instruments that make the track a pulsating (if eerily reminiscent of the Flaming Lips) success, it (the intro) doesn't sound good, go anywhere or serve any obvious purpose other than to exist simply because it can. “Oh Pretty Boy, You're Such a Big Boy” is similarly dissimilar; its early exercises would threaten the song's substance were there enough of it to be threatened in the first place. “Pretty Boy” struggles because it can't make its mind up. Like the intro to “Lunchmeat” it goes nowhere. Half of the track is empty and its hooks aren't cushioned by anything but uncooked noodling. Worse, “Five Little Rooms” is good enough to make it (“Pretty Boy”) even more disposable. The same can almost be said of “Sleeping Beauty,” which is one-third whose build-up (to what basically comes out as a refrain) is worth the wait.

Mines is one of the better rock albums to come out this year, and yes, it's interesting. But when you're listening to it, don't forget that its quirks are nothing without the songs themselves, and, as “Pretty Boy” shows us, not the other way around.



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Chart.
3.8
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Sam Feldman's Rating (4.5)
...

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Menomena have trimmed some of their quirkiness, but it isn’t a resignation so much as a process of...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
August 16th 2010


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Been without internet for a while. I was talking about this album to a friend and when I kept saying how I didn't give a shit about Deeler it was coming off like I hated it, so I wrote this to flesh out my thoughts and make sense of them (mostly to myself, if anything). So if it reads kind of like a stream of consciousness, well, that's because it is. I hand-wrote this on the bus.

Also, first review in like three months. I bet it shows, eh?

Mordecai.
August 16th 2010


8282 Comments


this... looks interesting.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 16th 2010


20859 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

To continue the theme, this was actually quite a "fun" review to read Tyler.

And when you (or others) compare this band to KoL, do you mean early KoL, or the later more commercial KoL?

Tyler
Emeritus
August 16th 2010


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

More recent. Early Kings of Leon is awful. It's mostly one of the vocalists, he's uncannily similar.

Tyler
Emeritus
August 16th 2010


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I realize that similar and uncanny imply different levels of likeness but shut up Tyler

Spare
August 16th 2010


5451 Comments


heard a couple of songs of friend or foe that i really liked a while ago and they didn't sound like kings of leon at all but i'm guessing that guy that sounds like the kol dude wasn't singing on them. also does the kol-sounds-like guy also look like him a little? because one of the fellows in the band pic kind of does.

anyway i think i'll get this and probably their other ones too

Digging: Forth Wanderers - Tough Love

Spare
August 16th 2010


5451 Comments


yeah this doesn't really sound like kings of leon at all but i'm quite ok with that

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
August 16th 2010


3782 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love this record.

DoubtGin
August 16th 2010


6754 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Early Kings of Leon is awful"

nooooooo


review is really good, just like this album

DiceMan
August 16th 2010


7068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This sounds... Peculiar

Spare
August 16th 2010


5451 Comments


so just listened to a fair few songs off friend and foe and i am the fun blame monster and they seem way better than this tbh

thebhoy
Emeritus
August 16th 2010


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is better than my review, mine was like hey I forgot how to write reviews after 3 months. LOVE THIS

Taxt
August 17th 2010


684 Comments


I like this album alot but I'm not sure why.

MichaelPhelps
August 17th 2010


144 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

maybe because it's good?

PuddlesPuddles
August 17th 2010


4787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album rules, review is sweet, thanks for writing up


And yeah early KoL isn't as good as newer

Dryden
August 17th 2010


13287 Comments


nah

Pigwise41
August 18th 2010


397 Comments


cool album cover. might be worth checking out

SeaAnemone
August 18th 2010


20982 Comments


Tithe is so good, probably my favorite off this

Digging: Viet Cong - Viet Cong

MichaelPhelps
August 18th 2010


144 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

TAOS, dirty cartoons and five little rooms are my faves but i really can't decide

kingsoby1
Emeritus
August 19th 2010


4958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

excited to listen to this



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