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MENOMENA - “Moms” Out 8th October on Barsuk Records | FESTIVALPHOTO

MENOMENA - “Moms” Out 8th October on Barsuk Records

From their early roots touring with The National and Gang Of Four, to releasing their debut with an elaborate 80-page flipbook hand designed and put together by band member Danny Seim, they have always had the creative intent to match the music. On their breakthrough record, "Friend and Foe", and the first through Barsuk, they celebrated the release of the album with Justin Harris assembling a 25-member choir who he taught the various vocal layers of the new material with the help of his mother Diane, a trained opera singer. The album received 8.5 on Pitchfork and went on to sell well worldwide. The artwork on the album was from the wonderful graphic novelist Craig Thompson, he of Blankets and this year's Habibi, and it was subsequently nominated for a Grammy for "Best Recording Package".

2010's "Mines" provided a true critical break through - receiving 4 and 5 star reviews across the board - but also led to the departure soon after of Brent Knopf to focus on Ramona Falls. There had been rumours that the record had been released under such animosity that they recorded the album seperately and sent each other the parts via email. Even so, with the eclecticism in the band, Danny Seim decided that he and Justin Harris would continue to make music as Menomena stating "We lost a major creative force in Brent, but thankfully, Brent's not Kurt Cobain, and we're not Nirvana."

With the upcoming album, “Moms”, aging and family are two of Moms' key themes, with the record split 50-50 between Danny's ruminations on his relationship with his mother, who passed away when he was a teenager, and Justin's recollections of his father walking out on his family. Danny said “My dad lives up here, 40 minutes outside of Portland, and Justin's dad lives all the way down in Texas-- the last time he was up here was 20 years ago. He randomly decided to do a road trip, so we were like, "We gotta get the dads together for the Moms album." We thought we'd dress them in our clothing, so I gave my dad a Grateful Dead tie-dye and he got the deep-V American Apparel. It's so surreal to see.”

In terms of the album’s bent towards families Danny explains, “When I started writing my songs for the record last June, I was 34 years old. My mom died when I was 17, in June of 1994. It hit me that I had spent as much time on Earth without her as I did with her, so I started writing all my songs based on that realization. I talked to Justin about it, and he had the opposite experience - his dad took off at a really young age, and he was raised by his mom, so his mom is still a really active role in his life. We thought it would be an interesting parallel: the mom being really involved in your life and the mom being not involved in your life at all.”

Menomena is now two men who have been friends since an uptight youth spent in Christian high school, and "Moms" signals the end of an age of walking on eggshells

Listen to the first single from “Moms”, “Heavy Is As Heavy Does”

Praise for last album “Mines”:

Sunday Times **** The Guardian **** The Fly **** Time Out **** The Times **** NME 9/10 Rock Sound 8/10 Clash 8/10 Mojo *** Artrocker Album Of The Month ***** Financial Times *** Loud & Quiet 8/10 The Independent / The IOS Recommended

During the last decade, Menomena has become its own reference point. From hooks wrapped around plummeting baritone saxophone lines and nearly inhuman rhythms to serpentine lyrical frameworks and high-concept album art, Menomena has established a singular and unmistakable aesthetic. They embed magic and mystery within pop songs that have never sat still or taken the path of least pressure.

After 2010's irrepressible and intricate Mines, Menomena co-founder Brent Knopf took his leave to focus on his solo project causing Justin Harris and Danny Seim - close friends since high school and now well into their second decade of making music together - to recast Menomena as a duo. They didn't slow down; they actually sped up, writing, recording and releasing Moms with more focus and speed than ever before.

Harris and Seim didn't invite loads of friends or collaborators to replace Knopf; they made these songs as a duo, intent on proving - directly to themselves, and by extension, to everyone else - that Menomena essentially remains the same brazen band responsible for Friend and Foe, Under an Hour and all the gut-punch, pop-ambition moments therein. They added new instruments, like flute, cello, more of Seim's synthesizers and the tap-dancing that actually laces through the teasing-then-charging opus, "Don't Mess with Latexas." For the first time, Harris and Seim, who each contribute five songs here, talked about what they were writing, too. Seim explored the death of his mother when he was but a teenager, while Harris investigated the way his own family dynamic - a single mom, with a departed dad - left indelible impressions on everything he's done since. The album's pieces connect, then, addressing how people must rise to face or flee circumstances beyond their control. It's perhaps the most appropriately imaginable prompt for a band whose last two years have depended upon their ability to explore, adapt and improve.

The result, Moms, is tragic and intimate, comic and endearing, personal and motivated. In 10 songs and just less than 50 minutes, Harris and Seim cast pop cascades into noise kaleidoscopes ("Baton"), chop and twist a melody until it becomes a big dance beat ("Capsule"), and build inescapable arrays of tension and texture that finally release ("Tantalus"). Opener "Plumage" couples its surge of energy with a cleverly playful study of sexuality, while "Pique" turns the same sort of impossible tessellated-rhythm tricks that have become a Menomena trademark.

At the close of it all, the slow strangle of "One Horse" arrives as the most poignant moment yet in Menomena's catalogue, piano plinking and strings sliding beneath Seim's existential evasion. It's the perfect summary statement for Moms, an album that explores both a new vulnerability and resiliency within Menomena, a duo that's taken change not as an excuse to opt out but instead as a catalyst for growth.

Menomena UK & European Tour Dates:

11/23/12 Glasgow at Captain’s Rest
11/24/12 Leeds at Brudenell Social Club
11/26/12 London at Cargo
11/28/12 Paris at Point Ephemere
11/29/12 Strasbourg at Laiterie
11/30/12 Munich at Atomic Cafe
12/01/12 Berlin at Postbahnhof
12/03/12 Hamburg at Uebel & Gehahrlich
12/04/12 Koln at Gebaude 9
12/05/12 Amsterdam at Paradiso
12/06/12 Brussels at Botanique Buy tickets
12/08/12 Camber Sands, UK at ATP Festival (SOLD OUT)

Skribent: Anthony May
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