I Am the Fun Blame Monster!

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The Portland trio that comprises Menomena calls its first album I Am the Fun Blame Monster!, which is an anagram for "the first Menomena album." That kind of joke is typical of a band that packages the disc in a flipbook showing them performing on drums, bass, and piano and that reveals in their press materials that the album was largely produced with a self-written computer program, after which they learned to play its songs live. Cut through all this traffic, and the music itself is still laden with primitive effects. Menomena loves to have its vocals filtered through a nearly impenetrable screen of noise, loves to begin a musical figure on keyboards or guitar, repeat it over and over, then suddenly cut it off and move on to something else. The piano/bass/drum combination sometimes recalls Ben Folds Five, but the melodies and lyrics are never given much of a chance to develop, or even be heard for long in the self-conscious gimmickry of the deliberately harsh production. Menomena clearly thinks of itself as a clever bunch of musicians. Maybe next time around they'll be more interested in sharing their wit with their listeners rather than just alluding to it. For a debut album, I Am the Fun Blame Monster! is surprisingly sophomoric.

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