Menomena I Am the Fun Blame Monster

[Muuuhahaha!; 2003]

Styles: psychedelic pop, experimental
Others: The Flaming Lips, The Shins

Okay, let's face it. If it wasn't for Pitchfork's spotlighting of I Am the Fun Blame Monster in their best new music section, I wouldn't be writing this review. Thus, I have to take this moment to commend P-Fork for turning me onto Menomena and countless other under-the-radar recording artists that I might've otherwise missed. Contrary to what your pissy readers say, you guys aren't tastemakers, but sound hunters dedicated to letting fellow sound hunters in on the goods. It's as simple as that. Keep up the good work people.

That said, this is one of the albums of the year: completely out of left field and completely solid from start to finish. The thick, rubbery bass and thundering hip-hop informed drums support some of the most keenly intuitive hook penning since The Soft Bulletin. While that Flaming Lips masterpiece is obvious touchstone for the group, they definitely do their own thing regardless. They put their best two feet forward with the powerhouse anthems, "Cough Coughing" and "The Late Great Libido." Two majestically infectious, unpredictable gems that (I hate quoting stupid movies but it's incredibly apt here) "had me at hello."

While all of these songs are deserving of some mention, I'd like to point to "Twenty Cell Revolt," "Strongest Man in the World," and "Oahu" as reasons you should definitely not miss this recording. Starting with "Twenty Cell Revolt," they start with skeletal drums vocals and hand-claps that, if it wasn't Menomena, could easily evolve into something dippy and trite. Instead, we get a downright funkdified sax skank-up that hits a triumphant crescendo of "Try and stop us now!" before going back to the skeletal skank-up. It sounds simple, but there's something so extraordinarily gripping regarding the group's use of restraint. "Strongest Man in the World" lets itself surge forth with a reggae-inflected groove for the first two minutes before a brief, fragile vocal coda, then the ragga returns more intense than before. The song moves your body as well as your emotions, and that could be said to be the main draw of the group. "Oahu" presents a filtered vocal matched with the usual up-front drumming and a plaintive guitar and piano harmony that provides one of the more chilled out moments of the release.

I can't implore you enough, seek this record out! It will restore your faith in the dismal state of pop music. This shit should be on the fucking radio. I don't mean to get crude, but college radio just doesn't get out to enough heads that could surely find something to champion in bands as inspired, infectious, and original as Menomena.

1. Cough Coughing
2. The Late Great Libido
3. E is Stable
4. Twenty Cell Revolt
5. Strongest Man in the World
6. Oahu
7. Trigga Hickups
8. Rose
9. The Monkey's Back