Menomena review – Eye Weekly (2.1.07)

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MENOMENA ****
Friend and Foe
(Barsuk)

On their third offering, Friend and Foe, Portland’s most Pitchfork-friendly experimental rock trio further exploit the possibilities of their homemade Digital Loop Recorder program to produce an eccentric masterwork worthy of Craig Thompson’s overpopulated cover art. Multi-instrumentalists Brent Knopf and Justin Harris tumble saxophone grunts, melodramatic pianos, cut-up acoustics and an assortment of extraneous noises in and out of the sonic framework of a dozen infectious ditties. Punctuated by Danny Seim’s distorto-funk drumming, the album maintains its groove throughout the frequent structural tangents. And with playful vocal melodies from all three members, eccentric lyrics like “If Jesus could only wash my feet” (from opener “Muscle’n Flo”) and the drunken singalong refrain “I’ve got a stranglehold on this decision” (from “Rotten Hell”) charm their way into your frontal lobe. If Menomena is “The Fun Blame Monster” (as their anagrammatically titled debut suggested), then Friend and Foe is a thoroughly enjoyable condemnation.

Originally published in EYE Weekly (2.1.07).

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