Menomena - Friend and Foe (Cover Artwork)


Friend and Foe (2007)


When I was told of a band called Menomena, I immediately thought of the Muppets song. Maybe that makes me weird, although I would likely fit right in with what this band is going for.

The absurdist artwork that accompanies every aspect of the band (and the animated .GIF backgrounds on their website) should give a pretty good impression that this band likes to mess around. In fact, I still can't tell if they take themselves seriously at all. Regardless, they are best described as a band that creates minimalist indie soundscapes. Sure, sometimes they are undeserving of the minimalist tag, with some songs containing very complex instrumentation, but nearly every song contains some portion that's just drum and bass, drum and keys, or drum and a percussive baritone sax riff. Yes, baritone sax, which adds some interesting textures, although it rarely breaks out of a rythmic style.

When Menomena are at their best, they combine the percussive nature of their instrumentation with smoother singing, like the impressive "Evil Bee." Their most aggressive song, "The Pelican" is also a standout, with some great vocal melodies and angular guitars that, by channeling At the Drive-In, can compete with the best post-punk hipsters.

Yet, therein lies a problem that we have seen so many times before. While some tracks and moments within tracks standout immensely, the rest really doesn't jump out and grab you. That's not to say it's bad, it just pales in comparison. The band is essentially an experimental outfit, but most of the songs retain a percussive nature that blends them together.

Menomena really is a worthwhile band, and they have inklings of greatness. Hopefully their next album can utilize those inklings and create a truly great indie album.