Sometimes I just don't want to buy the hype, and although I was tempted several times last year, I simply didn't get around to hearing I Am The Fun Blame Monster by Menomena. After a glowing review in a rather popular online publication, the disc seemed to catch on like wildfire and the next thing you know everyone was talking about Deeler (the loop-based software that bandmember Brent Knopf wrote to help construct the songs) and their clever packaging (a flipbook animates each member of the band as well as the anagram of the album title "The First Menomena Album").
Oh yeah, and people were talking about the music, and they talked about it so much that the group finally gave in and the disc is now getting a re-release on the slightly larger label of Film Guerrero out of Portland, Oregon. And really, it's the music that people should be talking about because I Am The Fun Blame Monster is an off-kilter pop gem of a debut that mixes genres and instrumentation like nobodys business and makes it work most of the time. They certainly waste no time getting started with "Cough Coughing," a track that bursts forth with propulsive drums, a rubbery bassline, and some calm vocals that offset things nicely. Shifting gears about halfway through, the track breaks down with a nice piano and rhodes interplay before letting loose with "The Late Great Libido," another drum and bass-heavy number that's also punctuated with blasts of horns and an absolutely relentless shower of beats.
Musically, one could maybe compare them to Flaming Lips simply for the huge drum sounds, but their sound is much less guitar-based than that of the Coyne's outfit. Instead, the trio of Menomena mixes things up more with plenty of chromatic instruments like chimes, rhodes, and pianos. Along with the catchy vocal melodies, it's the rhythm section that definitely drives the album the most. "E. Is Stable" mixes quiet passages of slide guitar with huge, rumbling drum sections and spaced-out bass while "Strongest Man In The World" swings back and forth with huge dynamics by juxtaposing piano-recital style ivory solos with organ/bass/drum blasts that completely bring down the house.
In places, the album loses a bit of steam. The dirging "Oahu" and the slightly-warbling lounge crooner of "Rose" don't hold up quite as well against the more solid pieces on the disc, but the album is still a boatload of fun and it's easy to see why people ate it up. For a debut, it's a remarkabley inventive and interesting release, and with a full tour planned in support of this re-release, they should have even more followers soon. Here's hoping they're just getting started.