Portland, Oregon's Menomena continues to swap instruments and build ideas on its fourth album of indie prog-pop. But where the group's other records combined pop smarts with mysterious thematic flourishes, the relatively straightforward lyrical approach on Mines ends up sounding quite brave. The difference here is in the directness — like the repeated mantra of "I'd like to go home, go home" that runs through "Dirty Cartoons." Menomena has never come off like a gimmick; there's too much thick perfectionism behind the broad layers of their work. But the confident Mines boasts a lyrical growth that finally lets the words catch up to the music. In "Oh Pretty Boy, You're Such a Big Boy," Brent Knopf sings, "I fear I'm showing my age." But he shouldn't worry about that. It's not such a drag getting old if it works this well.
Chris Drabick is a music critic for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.