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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

9.9

Menomena
Mines

Menomena are truly a phenomenal band. They're also men. But let's not state the fucking/bleeding obvious here. This is a ridiculously good record. Which is also obvious because up the top of this page we've attributed a numerical value (presumably out of ten, but maybe not) to concisely sum up our thoughts on this album for those post-1983 kids who don't have time for reading.

For those who love words and aren't at all offended when literature is butchered, sentence structure is a hurdle and something something something, then I demand/encourage you to read on as I overly dissect an album which will surely lodge itself in the anals of time as a real feces stopper. No bullshit.

Part 1: Abstract Realism aka Dadaism aka Rock Acid

Many artists create alternate universes. It's actually an easy way to distant their music from the mundane human struggle - love, death, lust, awkwardness and the pains of life in the slow lane. But the problem is, the mystical lands created too often focus on the ridiculousness, where it's about flying unicorns, swimming unicorns or just unicorns cutting the hair of corpses.

This escapism is apparent on all of Menomena's work, however, Mines sees them create a much stronger connection between their sub-reality tales and believable emotion. They're singing about making sure you have ample room in your stable for your wives, prostitutes and children, but they're also saying it with such unquestionable conviction that you can't help but get behind the cause.

While this unlikely connection between fact, fiction and absurd non-unicorn tales is also something successfully utilised by bands such as The Great Tucker B's and The Flaming You've Got Some Heroin On Your Lips, with Menomena these arguments are made all the more stronger by the fact there's no distracting devilish partner sitting on your shoulder whispering "we're all fairly fucked on drugs, are you fucked on drugs? Man this album sounds rad when you're all dizzy on drugs".

Part 2: Flexible Emotion

This is a thought I'd actually originally written for a review of a great little life-changing album that came out in 2002. That review will more than likely never see the light of day so I present the argument here instead.

There are songs where you know exactly what the dude/chick is saying. There are other songs where they're not saying anything (sup Temper Trap?). Music and life are both much more complex than that. Sometimes the emotions conveyed through music snuggly wrap around however you feel on a particular day. When you're sad and you need to be picked up they're the comforting line of cheap backyard speed. When you're down and you wanna stay down, they're the large bottle of Bombay Sapphire. And fuck you happy music. Nobody cares about you. You don't get a vote here.

I don't think it's at all of an exaggeration to say that every line on Mines can be consumed with a different emotional aftertaste. Lines such as "leave the lunch meat for the sharks" can one day cast a heavy shadow of hopelessness, yet can easily be adapted on another listen to command a triumphant resurgence of life. In a similar vein, "click your heels and get the... hell away" with it's unexpressive haunting delivery, allows itself to sway equally between optimism and total despair.

Part 3: And there's always music. And details. But mostly just music.

Recently, inside the warmth of an online chat room, my good buddy Michael pointed out (in what I presume was a smart ass tone) that the start of Mines' opening song, Queen Black Acid, sounded a bit like a Grizzly Bear number.

I'm sure this will have a grave effect on my future kids who will surely stay warm in the post-apocalyptic future by burning The Grizzly National Christmas albums, but I'm certain that this whole button-up, weak-as-fuck, campfire rock shit is destined to be discovered for the completely sterile lullaby garbage it is. Sure, there's an argument that the cute girl down at the coffee shop will shove her tongue in your ass if you play her Two Weeks, but the truth is the majority of these over-Forked band's just don't pack their bongs as tight as Menomena.

While Menomena have always preferred a cluttered palette, Mines sounds like their first genuine attempt to maintain their high level of instrumental interference but also funnel it into more pop-conscious focus. Queen Black Acid is the best example of the band's balance between accessibility and creative freedom.

It starts off with noble aspirations of convincing the library latte crowd that it's sensibly dressed enough to 'chill'. It soon scraps this plan though, shakes off this head of boring ideas and logical reasoning, kicks it around the park and then invites 4000 or so of it's closest mates to come and have a kick too. They're all wearing spoons on their boots. Some of them have horns strapped to their mouths. Some are kinda chubby and make the ground shake. It's a shambling chaotic mess. Bodies everywhere. Some folks are naked. Some are fornicating. Some are pissing into each others ears. But there's a man down the front in charge, directing the show and making sure that even though it's all just noise, it still somehow sounds fucking beautiful. Let me know when Sufjan is able to maintain that level of control. I'm thinking around the time he does his "Yo, It's Idaho" record.

Part 4: INTIL is the saddest/best song ever composed

I've only cried twice - when Marshall didn't take Lily back in season 3 of How I Met Your Mother and when I first heard INTIL. When I listen to the song now I need to really try hard to contain myself. That probably won't be the last time I cry during the HIMYM scene though. Marshmallow Segal acting tough gets me everytime.

But INTIL is an absolute masterpiece and the perfect way to close out a perfect record. It's hardly the centrepiece but it's the sombre end-of-the-party note. It's also got a lovely extra-bit, so just when you think it's finished wanking the last tear from your ducts, it sneaks back in with a final wailing hooray.

Part 5: Premature praise-ulation. On our faces. Like yolk. Ok, sure, we maybe went too early with the whole 'Best Album Of 2010'

You won't see those words in this review (except just there). We mean no disrespect to Lord Gonjasufi, but Mines is a superior album. It's absolutely enthralling. The perfect midnight and it's dark everywhere record. The perfect strutting to work on a beautiful winter morning kind of record. It's comforting, confusingly wacky and deeply saddening.

We aren't about to go crown it the year's best just yet (learn from your mistakes!) but our brains simultaneously explode with the mere idea that another album possessing a chaotic pop focus as brilliant as this will appear in 2010.

Filed Under
Record Reviews
Menomena

 

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Comments

Wayne

Well said, this IS a truly great album. Each and every song has many, many great things to discover and fall in love with. 9.9 might be a tad strong, but this is surely one of the best two or three albums in 2010.

1 decade ago

Muscle'n Flo

Just say it.... nothing will top this shit!
Not until they release another album at least

1 decade ago

(nobody)

really? woah. maybe i need to go back to this album.

1 decade ago

Aaaaaaaaaron

Yes, 'Mines' is quality, but 9.9? I'm guessing the only '10' score for 2010 will be for 'Form', which is so beyond '10' it's not funny....

1 decade ago

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