Menomena Friend and Foe

Menomena’s debut record, I Am The Fun Blame Monster, was an overstuffed delight, a frenetic, kinetic album that at worst was a lovable mess and at best, an indie pop masterpiece brimming with surprises and melody. Friend and Foe, their first proper follow-up (aside from an under-the-radar instrumental record last year), finds the band reining in their more chaotic tendencies and the result quite handily tops its predecessor. The band still comes with sufficient whimsy to colour a season of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, but it’s tempered with a restraint that gives these 12 tracks a giddy impact while maintaining the unpredictable, many instrument aesthetic of its debut. "The Pelican” finds the Portland trio mixing spastic Pacific Northwest indie with dense atmospherics and full-bodied vocals reminiscent of TV on the Radio. Meanwhile, "Boyscout’n” is propelled by delicate piano, sax skronks, sporadic drums and a persistent whistle, all of which intertwine with the most intricate abandon. Menomena’s strength still lies in fluidly weaving together various styles and instruments, but Friend and Foe is a tuneful gem that showcases a band that’s traded in some of its wide-eyed exuberance but lost none of its charm. (Barsuk)