Thursday, November 1, 2012

Album Review: Menomena - Moms

Rating: A
One of my biggest flaws as a lover of music is being a sucker for just about any "diary entry" music.  I am such a sucker for honesty, self-loathing, emotion and romanticism that I often lose perspective on everything that has to come together to make music good.  My love for music that is heavily dependent on lyrics that sound like they came out of a diary means that I have never got the full picture, I have always been given a beautiful art gallery, but have always cut my own eyes out.  I have been taking walks with musical Picasso but have only been concerned about their back stories and not their actual work, I have been on the court with musical Michael Jordan's but have only been looking at their shoes,   I have been given a catalog of Utopia's but have only obsessed over the cover.  It has become clear to me, as I go through days upon days of the bedroom angst of Bright Eyes, the whines of Radiohead, and the pre-pubescent screams of Taking Back Sunday, that I not only need to let me self see the full picture, but that I need a musical awakening.  I was not only loving all sorts of "diary music," but I was becoming ignorant of all other kinds of musical beauty.  I was missing the entire musical stratosphere for one small musical dot and I was missing the entire rest of the musical body for one heart on the sleeve.  What album could possibly get me out of my narrow minded funk?

The album that is going to get me out of this ignorant funk is Menomena's Moms.  Moms is the perfect album to make you see the full picture because it is clear from the first track that the album is going to be a total eye opener: it has heart on the sleeve lyrics that are sarcastic, witty, hilarious and brutally honest, it mixes influences and combines genres just about perfectly, it is easy to relate to yet still gives you the feel of an experimental, groundbreaking, and important album.  Moms is the full picture because it presents you just about every sound you would want to hear on every single track, thus making sure that you see more than just a sloppy black spot on the corner of a beautiful painting.  What makes the instrumentation of the album even more special though is the fact that it can present you with multiple pictures and paintings in just about every song: "Heavy Is As Heavy Does" starts out as a sappy yet punky piano ballad and ends up being a grungy garage rock jam session, "Plumage" starts out with slow claps, background singers, a screeching guitar riff, and a drum beat that you could totally bust a move to, and ends up having a chaotic breakdown filled with howling screams, trumpets, and a faded guitar riff, and "Pique" starts out with an atmospheric and gorgeous Beirut like instrumentation and ends up sounding like a pop-punk "Paranoid Android," combining three separate songs filled with social commentary, arena choruses, and powerful breakdowns in one very good and very important track.  The instrumentation on Moms is universal, anyone can have it and claim it as their own (insert easy Mom joke,) because Menomena not only presents us with different musical paintings on every track, but paints just about any picture you would want with their tracks.  It is a sound so universal and eye opening that it not only has the power to open your eyes to new sounds and combinations, but has the power to do that to just about anyone around you who listens to the album.  The instrumentation on Moms is not only eye-opening, giving you different and multiple paintings and pictures on just about every track, but more importantly it is free-spirited, giving you the chance to make you feel like those paintings are actually your creation and are left up to your interpretation.

The other thing about Moms that helps it be the perfect awakening album are the "different diary entry lyrics" and how they somehow fit in to the competing genres (paintings) on every track. On paper trying to mesh "heart on your sleeve" lyrics with beautiful soundscapes is not only risky, but illogical: it is like Menomena is pointless adding graffiti to the Sistine Chapel, like they are writing penis jokes on Michelangelo's David, and like they are tearing out pages of James Joyce's Ulysses.  Why in the world would you add your heartfelt feelings to something that already sounded like a masterpiece?  How could this graffiti and tearing out of pages result in your multiple paintings and magnum opus being anything but mediocre? Remarkably, the "diary entry lyrics" not only compliment the picture perfect instrumentation of Moms nicely, but they also help add another element to the album that makes it even more eye opening.  The albums heartfelt, sarcastic, and witty lyrics always somehow perfectly match the instrumentation of the album: when the lead singer screams about being a "parasitic fuck" on "Pique" his screams go together nicely with the trumpet, screeching guitar riff, and heavy drum beat you hear in the background, when he sings about how he is becoming an animal on "Plumage" his whispered vocals and sarcastic lyrics somehow match the songs heavy clapping and electric guitar,  when he screams about his childhood and how he never wants the right women in "Heavy Is As Heavy Does" his screams match the songs opening piano section, and everything he sings on "One Horse" somehow matches the multiple instruments and multiple sounds of the 10 minute and 12 second epic.  By making their "heart on his sleeve" lyrics perfectly match their perfect picture instrumentation,  Menomena has added another dimension to their already stellar album: the fourth dimension that let's this album become an insanely relatable yet original soundtrack to your life.  Moms already the picture perfect album that gave us multiple beautiful paintings on every song, it was already the album the shocking sound that caused our eyes to always be open, it was already the album that let us interpret and connect to it in any way possible, but by matching it's lyrics and sounds the album makes all of it's genius relatable.  It is now not just the musical Picasso and Ulysses, but it is your musical Picasso and Ulysses.  It is a fourth dimension that is not only a rarity in today's music, but is a rarity in life in general.

Moms is not only my new musical awakening that will get me out of my "parasitic funk," but is also one of the most original, breathtaking, and blunt albums I have heard in a while.  A top five album of 2012 for sure, Moms is not only a great rock album filled with great songs, but it is an album that combines every sound you love with every style of songwriting you have grown to adore. Eye-opening in its uniqueness, beautiful in its instrumental paintings, and universal in everything it does, Moms is not only one of 2012 few masterpieces, it is your masterpiece. It is album so powerful that it gives you your own Sistine Chapel, Ulysses, and David in a little over 50 minutes, and let you determine how they look and how they read.  That should not only be a musical awakening for just about every listener, but for every musician who falls into the trap of just being a black dot on a beautiful painting.


1. Plumage
2. Capsule
3. Pique
4. Baton
5. Heavy Is As Heavy Does
6. Giftshoppe
7. Skintercourse
8. Tantalus
9. Don't Mess With LaTexas
10. One Horse

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