Menomena

Mines (Barsuk)

Phases & Stages

Menomena

Mines (Barsuk)

Menomena's made quite the case for the nonconcept concept album. Across three LPs, the last being 2007's glittering Friend and Foe, the Portland, Ore., trio's penchant for looping has come down to the micro level. You're never exactly sure where the sound came from, and just as quickly it's replaced with something even less obvious. On their fourth album, a bigger picture finally comes into focus. Layering bass, sax, and piano is still the default setting on most of Mines, but the tone is darker, as on opener "Queen Black Acid." Sound experiments "Lunchmeat" and "Oh Pretty Boy, You're Such a Big Boy," with its piano cascades and background squeaks, trip down the rabbit hole. The lofty, Coldplay-level sincerity of "Sleeping Beauty," however, is a bit cloying and out of place. Drama aside, space is Menomena's final frontier, and they use it to great effect.

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