Menomena: Mines

C+

Menomena

Album: Mines
Label: Barsuk

By bare description, Menomena lives up to its experimental-rock tag, with its accretive songwriting process based on self-written software, and its combination of saxophone skronk, over-caffeinated rhythms, and off-kilter melodies that improbably still result in breezy, well-ventilated jams, even when the pile of instruments starts to climb toward the ceiling. In practice, there’s nothing particularly challenging about Mines, the band’s long-awaited second album for Barsuk, but the undeniable hooks of “Wet And Rusting” from Friend And Foe and “E Is Stable” from I Am The Fun Blame Monster are in short supply here, as the band frantically cycles between instruments and vocalists in an effort to generate some friction. “Lunchmeat” is a welcome exception: Its stop-start structure feels like an attempt to build bombast that gets interrupted by scrapping between a wimpy synth and pugnacious drums. “Sleeping Beauty” is another bright spot, as the band loosens its grip on the individual instruments and lets snaking synths and delicate piano stack instead of dropping them in and pulling them out of the song at whim. The rest of the album has its share of interesting ideas, but more often than not, it follows the model of “BOTE,” in which a dramatic, overstuffed finale feels more like an inevitability than inspiration.

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