Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Menomena - Under an Hour - Review
Menomena - Under an Hour
In crass attempt to appeal to mainstream commercial radio, "Under an Hour" consists of 3 songs that are about 18 minutes long a piece, each written by a different band member. It's pretty interesting how you can tell which track was written by which guy (Brent Knopf, Justin Harris, Danny Seim - in that order), although all the tracks have that Menomena sound - meaning piano, bass, drums, sax, guitar, and a plethora of other instruments that might be found in a church in southeast Portland, all jumbled together in a very non-Beatlesy way - meaning these are not your mother's pop songs. Or your dad's freedom rock. Under an Hour is definitely more produced than I am the fun blame monster, as evidenced by the backwards guitar on "Water", or the cut & pasted drums and guitars on "Light". The opening track's banjo leading into bells, bass, and guitars reminded me of "Cabinessence", the wonderful Beach Boys outtake from Smile, but it also reminded me of the beginning of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride at Disneyland, which is indicative of the grandness and magic of this album. "Water" is chamber poppy, "Flour" is saxophone-loop driven, and "Light" is the most progressive and ambient sounding, full of e-bowed guitar and chopped up guitar and distorted drum sounds. It's a fun ride, sometimes heart-pounding, sometimes jaw-dropping, always enjoyable. However, it's more thought provoking than an amusement park; where Disneyland seeks to make one forget the outside world, the wordless nature of this music forces introspection and reflection.
These instrumental compositions were made for a Portland dance troupe called Monster Squad. Monster Squad was a movie from the late 80s starring The Wonder Years as a boy who's friends with a bunch of weird animals like Frankenstein, the Werewoof, a Count Chocula-based character, and Angela Lansbury. They go around playing video games and one guy finally ended up in an Austin Powers movie and Winnie Cooper auditions to play baby Princess Leia in Star Wars Episode 3.
All in all, I give Under an Hour an "A" for "Ayyyyyyyyyyyy!"