MENOMENA play the Horseshoe on October 17. See listing. Rating: NNNN
After co-founder Brent Knopf left Portland indie rockers Menomena following their 2010 album, Justin Harris and Danny Seim regrouped as a duo and used the opportunity to dig deep into their family histories - Seim's mom died in the mid-90s, Harris's mom raised the family mostly on her own - to figure shit out. The result is Menomena's powerful fifth album, Moms.
Forthright, unflinching lyrics grab the spotlight. On Baton, Seim sings, "I wish I wasn't forced to rob a grave to pull you near." On Heavy Is As Heavy Does, Harris, who sounds eerily like
Damon Albarn, sings, "Heavy are the branches hanging from my fucked up family tree." Singing duties and songwriting credits are split equally and effectively between both, though Harris's lyrics and vocals hit harder.
The band's experimental pop songs are still dense and helter-skelter with ideas, but also steadier and less hyperactive than on previous releases. Harris's saxophones honk between big drums, pretty piano, noisy guitars and glitchy synths. It's a bold, intense and confrontational album that uplifts through catharsis.
Top track: Pique