Carrying on after the departure of Brent Knopf, who left the band to focus on his solo project Ramona Falls, Menomena return as a duo on their fifth album, Moms. Exuberant and direct, the album is a refreshing change from the subtle layering of Mines, finding the band at its most musically manic while delivering its most personal lyrics to date. As the album's title implies, Moms finds Justin Harris and Danny Seim exploring the relationships the two had with their own mothers, with Harris having been raised by a single mother while Seim's mother passed away when he was young, giving the album a unifying theme that adds a layer of pathos to the cut-and-paste loop frenzy that has always been a staple of Menomena's sound. This unifying theme helps to tie the album together, allowing it to retain a consistent feeling even when the music is at its most fractured. More importantly than helping the album coalesce into a whole, the theme of Moms allows Harris and Seim to inject a new emotional dynamic into their songwriting. Menomena manage to use this emotional depth to great effect, adding a heartbreaking sadness to the upbeat bounce of a song like "Baton," as the song's innocent sweetness is tempered by crushing passages like "I wish you were in person what you are in souvenirs/I wish I could remember if my last words were sincere/I wish I could construct a better song for you my dear." Moments like this help to fill the album with revelatory moments that take listeners by surprise, as they suddenly realize the happy songs they're blissfully nodding to are like fake smiles plastered on to mask true feelings. Depth like this almost demands repeated listening, and makes Moms an album that will reward anyone who appreciates the thoroughly impressive songwriting of this newly minted duo.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney