I Am the Fun Blame Monster
et’s face it: there are hardly any truly original bands these days. It’s been said before, and it’s true; the best bands are rarely innovators in the sense that they create something previously unheard. But they know how to expand upon their influences’ ideas in a way that is uniquely striking. Menomena is one of these bands; the group’s music draws from Radiohead, The Beta Band, and many of these two bands’ followers, yet I Am the Fun Blame Monster is no third-tier Three EPs.
Much of this can be attributed to the Portlanders’ very tangible personalities. Take the album’s packaging, for example. The CD comes in a nifty little flipbook, in which one can spend hours watching one band member drum while another spins around in a chair. Better yet, as you flip the pages, the words “The First Menomena Album” gradually transform into their marvelously cute anagram “I Am the Fun Blame Monster.” And if that isn’t enough proof of the band’s total awesomeness, just visit www.menomena.com.
The music’s the real proof, though; I Am the Fun Blame Monster is totally vibrant, totally groovy, and once again, totally awesome. Opener “Cough Coughing” is perhaps the groovingest opener this year, funking it out like none other until the song falls apart momentarily and an ass-shaker of a piano line enters to consummate the album’s already near-perfect commencement. “The Late Great Libido” follows as the album’s shining moment, a stunning pop song that, like most of the material on I Am the Fun Blame Monster, stands out from its contemporaries because of its beautiful instrumentation. The drums are tight, the bass tighter, the piano enchanting, the horns triumphant, and the guitars absolutely staggering.
The album is very nicely balanced between quasi-instrumental rock (instrumental rock format, but with some vocals) alternately reminiscent of post-rockers Tortoise and Do Make Say Think and the experimental pop of the aforementioned two bands (and their followers). That is to say, the album is not one-dimensional, and doesn’t lag for any lengthy period because its two aspects are appropriately intermingled within the album. In addition, the two genres are actually mixed within the songs quite often, and the result is as natural as Broken Social Scene’s magnificent combination of post-rock and indie pop on You Forgot It In People.
Plain and simple, I Am the Fun Blame Monster is one of the most enjoyable albums of the year. Its influences are familiar and strongly felt, but this hardly detracts from the album as a result of the band’s spectacular ideas and, more so, its results, which are convincing both musically and instrumentally, unlike the vast majority of indie music.
Reviewed by: Kareem Estefan
Reviewed on: 2003-11-25