in Review

All Mines

Menomena – Mines

Portland’s own Menomena have an interesting approach to making music. Instead of writing a whole song, the band’s three members record loops and then pile it all together, letting each man put his stamp each song. This means everyone has a shot at playing a variety of instruments and singing. This unique collaborative approach means that the band can’t get lazy with a single song, and as a result makes Mines one of the better albums I have heard this year.

When you hear about a band that writes their own software so that they can approach songwriting in an innovative new way, you probably would be safe to assume that the resulting album would be impenetrably indie. And that may have been the case with the band’s first few albums (I have not heard them) but Mines is full of moments that appeal to my more mainstream alternative tastes, and some songs are borderline poppy. I went into the album intimidated, reading about how it fused jazz with outer space and other insane claims only to realize what they really mean is that the album is good. Distinct, and good.

Not to knock the singing, since the lyrics and vocals are quite good, but it is the instrumentation that steals the show on Mines. A track like “Killemall” that evolves from a lone piano into an orchestra of percussion, guitar and more is exactly the kind of song that drives itself straight into my head and keeps coming back when I least expect it. The album sounds so clean and lush that I can’t help but be addicted to it. This is a Hell of a thing.

Favorite Tracks: “Killemall,” “Tithe,” “Bote”

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