Menomena, 'Mines' (Barsuk)

Critical Mass
Label: Barsuk

by Spencer Kornhaber

Thanks to either undiagnosed OCD or their own homemade sampling software, this Portland trio's songs seem compartmentalized, with drum loops, organ blasts, and knickknack noises layered discretely like toys arranged on a collector's shelf. Previously, that technique fostered playfulness, but Menomena's fourth album mostly just broods. Even "TAOS," a lusty, Stones-influenced stampede, glances at its feet halfway through and ends up two minutes too long. When Menomena don't overthink, though, Mines delivers tricky triumphs like the rushing-and-stopping "Killemall," a modular epic that evokes Washington Crossing the Delaware rendered in hand-painted Legos.



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