Tuesday, February 27, 2007

album review: Menomena - Friend and Foe

I shouldn’t like this album, I shouldn’t like it at all. There’s a decent amount of saxophone featured and it isn’t the Clarence Clemons bathed-in-sweat heroic type of sax. It’s the dirty and deep sax, the type Morphine once rode to mid-level popularity. Jesus, I hated Morphine. I first heard them in the spring of ’94; a friend lent me Cure for Pain. Sweet mother, that was some rough shit - detention, that’s what it felt like. In fact, I ended the friendship soon after, that’s how bad it was...

I think I just blacked out. Where was I? Oh right, Menomena.

Friend and Foe is super catchy, like stick-in-your head catchy, like hear a song in the morning and it plays in your head all day. Frankly, this one snuck up on me...on first listen, I liked only two songs (out of twelve) and I began planning a trip to the Salvation Army with this and a few other musical casualties for donation. But with each successive listen, other songs emerged as winners and it didn’t stop until I loved every song. Man, I love when that happens.

It’s littered with traces of Mercury Rev, Babybird, Guster and The Shins, and while there’s a slew of odd time signatures and dramatic tempo changes, at its core, Friend and Foe is a pop album. It’s an album you can hum along to, sing along to or tap your feet to. And while it’s not a party record, hearing it, I was glad to know there are bands who are doing cool new things but still remember it’s all about creating great and memorable songs.

Thanks Menomena, for not only making a sweet album, but also for removing a decade’s worth of bad feelings from the dirty sax. For that, you have my eternal appreciation. (John Byrne)

Menomena - "Wet And Rusting" mp3 buy

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