Menomena I Am The Fun Blame Monster!

Menomena’s debut album is a masterpiece even before you put the CD in the stereo and press play. Instead of a dull jewel case, the disc comes in a hefty flipbook that contains photos of each member playing an instrument, which become animated while flipping through the book. Another thing to discover while flipping is that the album’s title, I Am The Fun Blame Monster!, proves to be an anagram of "The First Menomena Album.” Such wonderment is only the beginning because Menomena have the audio to back up their visuals. Like the packaging, their approach to music making is wildly original and full of diverse ideas. From the opening blast of Danny Seim’s zestful drum beats on "Cough Coughing,” the album never settles into a single comfort zone. Instead, the trio (also consisting of Justin Harris and ringleader Brent Knopf) indulge in their tastes, avoid conventions and weigh all options. Such adventurous attempts at genre-mashing are often disastrous, but Menomena have discovered a loophole that allows them to combine shades of pop, jazz, ambient, classical and electronica in the appearance of indie rock geniuses. Even Radiohead’s experiments don’t sound as easy or as good as this. (Independent)