Menomena - Mines

If you had asked me in 2007 who I thought the next biggest band in the world was going to be, I invariably would have answered Menomena. I was pretty disappointed by Neon Bible, but Friend and Foe showed glimpses of the same transcendent musical glaciers that made Funeral so mesmerizing. Nothing Menomena did ever seemed all that cutting-edge, it just sounded unique. They had a chemistry on songs like "Wet and Rusting," "Wierd" and "The Pelican" that made them out to be a formidable pop trio, but the profundity of "Evil Bee" made them seem like a jam-band derivative—more organized, more tightly packaged and most of all more exciting. The bari-sax cameo toward the end takes the song's vast landscape and drops an epic mountain directly in the center, as if we needed a more impressive effort to verify its existence.

And here we are three years later, and Menomena still hasn't blown up. Their follow-up to Friend and Foe, Mines, captures a lot of the hefty pop hooks that put my high school mind aflutter; but the closest they come to another chill-enducing euphoria is "Tithe," which sounds less organic and perhaps thrives on context. Each song is almost over-tidy the way they think through each hook and process every melody so as to rid the album of any raw meat.

Mines is good—very good, in fact. It's a pop album with virtually no holes, a plateau of healthy terrain that's safe to eat. But I always listened to Menomena to hear mountains, the loose imperfections that would snag my earbuds on their way by just because they knew they could.

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