Monday, February 18, 2008

Menomena – Friend and Foe

One of the hardest tasks associated with making a good album is finding a balance between a bands influences and their own unique sound. On Friend and Foe, Menomena do just that, which is an impressive accomplishment by the sheer volume of influences that can be heard throughout the record.
The ugly tune “The Pelican” calls to mind the vocals of TV on the Radio, but once the band comes in a groove much akin to the more experimental moments of Led Zeppelin takes the reigns. “Wet and Rusting” sounds like an Arcade Fire song put through a coffee filter, while the eerily soulful groove on “Air Aid” channels the motown era through the use of bari-sax and piano. “Rotten Hell” sounds like a song the members of Coldplay would’ve written while they were still in high school. Menomena give the most obvious head-nod on the album to Neil Young in the form of “My My”, in which the vocalist emulates a the wavering tone and inflection of Young’s voice.
Taken at face value, the descriptions above would lead someone to believe that this album is nothing but a hodge-podge. However Menomena successfully rescue this album from the pit of failure by always letting their unique style shine through. Every track possesses a minimalist groove with huge, open-sounding drums. Menomena’s arrangements are concise, yet interesting as best illustrated by the start/stop feeling in the album opener “Muscle’n Flo” It was hard for me to find a moment on this album that didn’t make me tap my foot. Simple, yet memorable vocal melodies keep the music grounded, despite some passages which contain a hint of avant-garde.
Menomena’s Friend and Foe is a unique album, well balanced from start to finish, that has a little piece of something for virtually everyone to latch on to. Weather you’re into jungle music, or classical piano, Menomena, like a musical “big brother”, still hasn’t left you out of the loop.


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