Aug 29, 2010

Mines-Menomena

The art of melancholy. Never underestimate its importance. I try not to. Because so much that is great in film and music has been coloured with a melancholic hue. We can all appreciate a sunny feeling, a burst of joy. But what stays with me is that quiet sadness, that pining for something lost, that undertone of a certain melancholy. Whether it is a simple Will Oldham couplet, a Sufjan Stevens aching melody or a Doug Martsch high octave yawl, it is all there. That feeling that gets under your skin, that direct punch to the heart. Well, you know who does it as well as anyone. Menomena. Sure, they have wonderful melodies, startling rhythms, confident and intelligent instrumentation. But it's the vocals that get me. All three men share vocals and they do it perfectly. Especially the sublime contrast between Brent Knopf and Danny Seim. With their new album in "Mines", Menomena have created a superb and startling album that will surely rank as one of the best musical creations in 2010.

The languid "Queen Black Acid" opens the party with its loping pace and sure touch. Knopf pleads with the listener, drawing you in, leaving you wanting more. The subsonic blast of "TAOS" knocks you for six immediately following. It carries many of band's regular trademarks. A caterwauling guitar, ferocious drumming, crucial and vital instrumentation, But floating above is the yearning vocal of Knopf. And so on it goes. "Killemall" is a dark maelstrom with its piercing drums. Seim comes to the party with the earnest and contemplative "Dirty Cartoons" and the expansive and quite excellent "Tithe". Seim also takes the lead on one of the definite highlights in the shape of the pulsating and revealing "Five Little Rooms". But it is the last song that brings it all home in glorious fashion. "INTIL" is short for 'I Never Thought I Lied'. It is a sumptuous feast, a veritable soup of overflowing melancholy. A stark and instinctive piano line underlies a plaintive vocal that rises and swells, leaving a deep and memorable impression. There is no weak link on "Mines". It hits each and every target. It is music created from a considerable gift. It is massively human in feeling. It has heart and soul. It is greatness.

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