I first heard Menomena in 2007, when I bought Friend and Foe from the darkest, dingiest record shop I’ve ever been to in Lincoln Park, Chicago (to be fair, they were suffering from a power cut at the time). I loved them almost immediately, for their ability to be so inventive without sacrificing the quality of their songs and the instant appeal of their hooks and melodies. They have a few spin-offs, and Lackthereof is the solo project of one of the three original members, Danny Seim, that pre-dated the band but continued as a side project when Menomena started to experience some success.
As his voice is so recognisible, and his band’s sound so distinctive, it’s difficult to look past this album as anything more than a Menomena offshoot, with all the positives and negatives that brings. On the plus side, there are a handful of really good songs on here – “Choir Practice” and “Last November” chief among them – and the album is full of the playfulness and sense of melody that characterises Seim’s main band. There are times when he tries out different sounds with a fair bit of success, such as the dark, splashy “Ask Permission”, which is one of the album’s highlights.
Your Anchor does suffer, though, in that it would probably be better if the other members of Menomena had contributed to its creation. By mainly sticking to the same kind of sound that Menomena has made their own, I feel that songs like “Fire Trial” would have sounded so much better if they’d been fleshed out by the full band.
But this is what it is – it’s clearly Seim’s bedroom recording project, where he’s able to try more things out and take a few more risks, such as the subdued take on “Fake Empire” by The National. It’s a good album that suffers from being compared to his main band, though it would have been nice to hear him stray away from the sound he finds so comfortable just a little bit more.