[mp3] Menomena: “Don’t Mess With Latexas” and Moms
November 2nd, 2012 by Matt
Menomena’s Moms makes me feel guilty. It does that because it brings out one of my most shameful music-fan habits: prematurely judging albums on their covers. I don’t always do this, but I’m finally aware of some background patterns in my brain that slightly downgrades albums with covers I hate. I’ve done it with Deerhoof’s Offend Maggie and I did it this year with Menomena’s Moms. The connection there, if I’m going to be self-analyzing about it, is that these are two bands I love that typically have great cover art. So when my first glimpse of their new record is negative, something in the back of my brain preps me for a letdown on the music as well. Luckily in addition to learning this subconscious bad habit of mine, I’ve also learned the cure: repeated listenings of the album.
Around my second or third listen to Menomena’s new album Moms it struck me that I wasn’t let down by this album any more. And even calling it a “grower” wasn’t fair to the record. There are some honest-to-god Best Songs Of Their Career tracks on this album. Elements of certain tracks (the dark riffs and dynamic change-ups of “Don’t Mess With Latexas”) are a distillation of the greatest parts of every Menomena record. It’s tough to imagine, but right now Moms seems almost neck-and-neck with their incredible 2007 record Friend and Foe.
Maybe a part of my quickness to condemn Moms to mediocrity was the departure of Brent Knopf after the release of 2010′s lackluster Mines. Loosing a key member of a trio after releasing a ho-hum album doesn’t really inspire a lot of confidence. But maybe that provided Danny and Justin with the juice they needed to rebound strong. Moms is full of the most personal lyrics of Menomena’s career overtop of some of their best work as a band. You can enjoy the album without taking in their reflections of relationships, sex, family upbringing and the like, but you’ll be deeply rewarded for doing so.
So to Menomena and to any other band that I’ve allowed little petty things to stand in the way of my appreciation of their music: I’m sorry. Occasionally we’re all fools, aren’t we?