The Beta Band broke up last month? Really? I could've sworn they were reborn as a better band, Menomena, whose debut album, I Am the Fun Blame Monster (self-released in 2003 but now being distributed nationally), is the kind of no-genre genius that would fit just as well in a cameo in High Fidelity. Menomena's greatest asset is the element of surprise, pulling instruments out of its ass like a DJ running a turntable with four hands, so the fact that they play everything live makes their jumps from big-beat techno to Shins fluff-pop and everything in between all the more impressive. Songs like "Strongest Man in the World" and "Monkey's Back" build walls of thumping bass lines and crash cymbals that crumble down like the best songs of Massive Attack's Mezzanine, while "Twenty Cell Revolt" stirs pianos, horns, xylophones and backing vocals into a sweet pop symphony. Singer/multi-instrumentalist Brent Knopf's vocals sound like a less confident Damon Albarn, however, and lyrics like "this moon used to inspire me, now it's cold" are aimless and don't match the weight of the compositions. Fortunately, it's all about the band in Monster, so pull a High Fidelity of your own: Head to your local record shop, put this on the speakers and watch five copies sell.
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sam Machkovech

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