When Portland, Oregon’s Menomena lost co-founder Brent Knopf to his solo project in 2010, Justin Harris and Danny Seim decided to continue as a duo. Such is the multifaceted nature of their latest album, you’d ever know that Moms was the work of just two people. These multi-instrumentalists cram it with scalpel-precise guitars, blasts of brass, gorgeous flute and cello, feedback- drenched breakdowns and even, on Don’t Mess With Latexas, tapdancing as percussion.
Aside from the moving, catchy, endlessly inventive musicianship, Menomena raise the bar by peppering their songs with bon mots that hit you right between the eyes. The duo have looked to their families for inspiration for some achingly personal lyrics: Seim draws on the death of his mother when he was a teenager; Harris focuses on being the product of a single mother and absent father.
Tragedy and angst throw a heavy shadow over Moms, but the pure love of language is a joy to behold: ‘Heavy are the branches hanging from my fucked-up family tree’; ‘Like a nervous random stranger at a glory hole’.
Moms is proof that when it comes to good music, it often only does take two.