Portland trio Menomena has long sounded much bigger than their numbers would suggest. Through the use of clever, often intricate arranging techniques, the multi-instrumentalist proclivities of two of them (what’s more – all three sing!), and a homemade program that helps cohere their hundreds of amassed loops, Menomena make art rock chock full of intensity and orchestral ambition.
Both these traits have been ramped up a notch on Mines. According to the band, this may, at least in part, be due to the record’s long gestation period; a time marked by internal strife, marital discord, and at least some consideration of disbanding. Unlike some groups in the throes of conflict, Menomena doesn’t try to hold this back from the music-making, instead permitting us a glimpse into the angst-laden and anger-driven excesses of the creative process; as well as its powers to allow both practitioners and listeners an eventual measure of catharsis.
Thus, the band remains as energetic, inquisitive, and creatively intricate as ever, but ups the ante in terms of visceral emotional impact. It might be worthwhile for the Menomena’s longterm health – both individually and as a creative unit – for them to avoid a repeat performance in favor of a little therapeutic intervention. But in the meantime, their angst makes Mines a heady listening experience.
MP3: Five Little Rooms