February 8, 2007

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Menomena, Friend & Foe
Barsuk Records, 2007

Another day at the art-indie races for Menomena, power-rinsing the Shins’ sound with Sufjan’s gift of weird. Short attention spans will feel welcome here, as may prog-heads – the patterns change quickly but the songs often fade out in truly dazzling codas, a notion that seems utterly lost on a good 99.9 percent of the alt-rock slackers who’ve been wasting perfectly good college bandwidth for what seems like – well, it has been, come to think of it – decades now. It’s as if the songs were proofread for legibility – a comma of sax here, a dotted piece of concerto there, the finished products all painstakingly tooled standalones that could have been entire concept albums if dragged out by the wrong crew. Not to say that the band has any outward designs on prog, however; the flourishes weave, sparkle and sometimes annoy, but more in the natural manner of a Flaming Lips than the output of an emotionally stingy math-wonk incubator. You should not at all be surprised to find this in a couple-few year-end best-of lists. A- — Eric W. Saeger