Cohesion Is Hex
Got sick and had to miss the Enon show the other night, which is a dirty shame twice over; first, because it was Enon, who're one of the best bands in America, and second, because it was the second time this week that the Duke Coffeehouse had brought some great music in from out of town.
Still, there's this, which is great for both sick and healthy people alike. I felt like Enon kinda dropped the ball on their last record; John Schmersal's one of the most nuanced singers indie rock's got, and I like to hear him sing. Hocus Pocus, while still a good record, found Schmersal handing the vocal duties over to Toko Yasuda much of the time. I like Yasuda's voice well enough but would prefer that she take a Keith Richards role on record: a couple of songs per album and some sweet-ass backing vocals.
Nick Syvester's review over at Pitchfork makes the case in favor of this new singles comp as well as I could, so I'll just point you in its direction, although I think I like the album better than he does; he's looking for The Total Package but what I want from Enon (and what I got on High Society, which is, as Sylvester observes, one of the best indie rock records of the past insert-arbitrary-timeblock-heres) is The Messy Package. What made High Society great, and what Hocus Pocus lacked, and what makes Lost Marbles quite fucking excellent, is precisely its refusal to cohere, its quasi-spastic flouting of the narrative urge; how its meanderings aren't detours, but the very qualities that give it character.
Which is why, I think, Enon remains exciting even when they're not breaking new ground for themselves: they resist the impulse to sew everything together. They're playing rock and roll, but they seem content to leave the final piecing-together to the listener. If they had a kick-ass horn section, they'd be like the Fantastic Planet version of the Rolling Stones circa 1971: so completely in-the-pocket at all times that they just book studio time and do whatever comes to mind. In any case, "Fly South," in its context here toward the end of the album, is as good a song as you're likely to hear this year, or next year, for that matter. It sticks its head up all mournful and dark and melancholy from its tweaked-out blinking-video-screen surroundings, practically stunning you with raw emotion. Neat trick, that, and one suggesting that there may be more narrative here than meets the eye.
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