Wednesday, April 11, 2007

They gave me a present, I never expected


Having been stunned by the arrangements of one of the finest sophomore albums I have heard in Friend and Foe I jumped on this aptly named band and have been riding their rise to recognition by soaking up all I can lend my ears to. Friend and Foe, stands as one of the years best releases to date (according to this guy) with songs ranging from horn heavy, bass lining dark stories to the whistling, chorus and multi instrumental ballads of a band never afraid to throw their sound over the cliff and poise for the reverb of the crash below. Reigning from Portland, there must be something going on up there these days, Menomena take an intriguing approach to their music and the risk pays off.

Using a self designed computer program, the Oregon trio loop, layer, splice, tear apart and add on to hook after hook until they have composed a strong array of crescendos, crashes, melodies and just plan awesomeness…and then they throw in some lyrics and learn to actually play the stuff on their instruments. They have come a long way from their indie-dance pop of I Am the Fun Blame Monster! And they got there in a hurry.

Wet and Rusting, the first single from Friend and Foe, is the gentlest song on the album and one that did not catch my attention at first. On the EP the song is presented in LP form (note EP preceded Album, release delayed in US) and with now numerous listens it is a strong single, however it is the company that this track brought along that makes this EP more friend than foe.

Polo, feeds off the quirkiness of the group doing what few bands can do with a straight face…make a song where the chorus is, you guessed it: Marco?…Polo! Despite the silliness of the lyrics this is a well-performed song and it easily could have worked on hook laden F & F.

The standout on this EP is Gay A. The baritone sax, bells and percussion here are funky and amazing, lending itself to a more hip-hopper sound (perhaps their dream may one day come true of working with Kayne, watch video). The lyrics most resemble the soul searching and desperate reassurance of better to come heard throughout F & F: “All my pathetic and small life, I made big steps with small strides, To fight just what feels right; Then I have a vision, now I’m on a mission, to fix my condition, to fix me for good.”

The EP includes two distinct approaches to the single with a bare bones E.R. Don version with acoustic guitar and little accompaniment. This version shines a new light on the song and sounds like folk ballad more than an indie pop tune.

Menomena is headed in the right direction with these tunes and it seems evident they will live up to the hype.

Rating: 7.9

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