Album Review Music

Menomena – Mines (Review)

Yes, this cd was released a few weeks ago but I have good reason for waiting so long to review.

When I first received a copy of Mines back in June I was in a music funk of sorts.  I had been really excited about several releases that were falling well short of my expectations and I couldn’t quite figure out why.  The National’s “High Violet” really let me down after the first several spins and I thought “how could I be this massively disappointed with one of my favorite bands”?  What I soon discovered was that with each “highly anticipated” new release, I had “my expectations” of what the record should sound like (based on my favorite parts of a bands previous records) and I was not listening with a true music lovers ear.  I had been treating my favorite bands as if they owed me the same record over and over again, which is a huge mistake.  This discovery led me to put on High Violet again with a new frame of mind and fall completely in love with it and open myself again.  With this in mind I wanted to give the same opportunity to the new Menomena record and I am glad that I did.

Mines is a dense, mature and tense album from one of the more creative bands of the last ten years.  While all the trademark Menomena sounds are still intact they yet again expanded their musical landscape to construct tightly packed songs.  Take the album’s closer “INTIL” which personifies everything that is great about this band.  The track starts with a simple and meloncoly piano line and the opening (and closing) haunting line of”I never thought I’d Lie” aka “INTIL”.  This song is a downer, without being an in your face downer.  It tears at you without being blatant about it.  The opener “Queen Black Acid” starts as a simple affair, but once again they have played with our senses.  Overdubbing baritone sax and distorted guitar slides (doubled with electronics) to keep you from becoming to familiar with it.  Like the person who keeps you at arms length by being vague and impersonal, while still being intriguing.  Several other tracks has this same vibe such as “Oh Pretty Boy, You’re Such A Pretty Boy”  and “Killemall” which both hug you and shove you away at the same time and that is what makes this album great.

This album isn’t without its faults as middle tracks “BOTE” and “Lunchmeat” fail to qualify for additional listens but 2 blah tracks out of 11 is a good ratio for me.  I would be stupid to not mention the best track on the album “TAOS” which in a strange way comes across as an inspirational anthem.    You find yourself singing along at the top of your lungs with the refrain “Oh I’ll Bet I know What you Like, At Least Think I know What you Might” as your head bobs along to the beat.

Menomena has once again raised the bar for themselves and challenged listeners to step out of a comfort zone, but they have done it in a way that makes you totally comfortable in the new mold.

Score – 9.2/10

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