Touch And Go
By: Eric Greenwood
For a band that has built its reputation on charging in unpredictable directions, Enon's third album feels strangely ho-hum and disappointingly underdeveloped. Last year's acclaimed High Society set the bar fairly high for Enon's spastic, schizophrenic pop confections, but Hocus-Pocus never makes good on the promise that album made. There are some good songs here, to be sure, but they're wedged between too many meandering, indistinct retreads of self-referential bombast.
"Shave" opens Hocus-Pocus in a haze of moody new wave. Toko Yasuda's girlish voice bobs gently above the den of squishes and synthetic pulses. It certainly doesn't grab your attention with its laid back atmospherics, but it's pleasant enough. Blah. John Schmersal's infectious "The Power Of Yawning" would have made a much better opener with its immediate hooks and lopsided production. His retro-power-pop delivery injects just the right amount of juice after such a woozy start.
As Hocus-Pocus unfurls, it feels more and more like the band is simply running in place. Schmersal's snooze-inducing "Storm The Gates" is a case in point. It's a jangly slow-burner that devolves into some sort of Beatles-esque tangent that goes absolutely nowhere, and Yasuda's hiccupping charm wears thin on the dragging "Daughter In The House Of Fools." The buoyant energy of High Society is nowhere to be found; Enon just sounds tired.
Finally, over half way through the album, Schmersal emerges from his hibernation on the aggressive (by this album's standards, anyway) rocker "Utz", but it's still only half as good as any of his guitar songs on High Society. "Spanish Boots" is another indulgent dud, but "Startcastic" shows signs of life with an effective vocal trade-off. Schmersal builds the tension in the claustrophobic verses while Yasuda shows some vocal prowess in the paranoid chorus, pushing her voice beyond that coy lilt she typically employs.
Flip-flopping between Yasuda's electro-pop and Schmersal's attention-deficit-addled indie rock, Enon pretty much sticks to the formula it perfected on High Society with no real conviction or advancement. I guess the band figured it had a good thing going, so why rock the boat? Indie rock fans are a fickle bunch, though. It's never a wise move to stand in one place for too long.