REVIEW: Enon: Hocus Pocus
Enon: Hocus Pocus [Touch and Go, 2003] (mp3)
Three words? inconsistent pop candy
Enon have always toyed with mediocrity. Even when the songwriting wasn’t at its strongest, John Schmersal’s twitchy presence still managed to keep things interesting. Their sophomore effort, High Society, was a critical darling but musically all over the map. From spazzed-out punk numbers to glitchy pop tracks, Enon covered the territory with aplomb and panache to spare. Thus with great anticipation, their follow-up Hocus Pocus arrived wrapped in bows of expectation, and unfortunately, unwrapping the new full-length results in a slight disappointment.
Perhaps what is most surprising upon listening to Hocus Pocus is the emergence of bassist Toko Yasuda as a songwriter. More than on any previous Enon efforts, Yasuda makes an impressive mark on the record. From the opening cut "Shave," to the Japanese sung "Mikazuki" and the utterly astonishing "Daughter In The House Of Fools," Yasuda’s material makes up the best of the album. These tracks are the most inventive and fun listens - not only on this disc but in the Enon discography.
Equally surprising is how dour and dull Schmersal's efforts are. "The Power Of Yawning" starts catchily enough before slowing down into a literal yawn, diminishing the the melodic power of the song. Seemingly running out of ideas, "UTZ" is an unfortunate, slowler retread of the much better "Pleasure And Privilege" from High Society. And the throwaway final cuts, "Litter In The Glitter" and the title track only showcase Schmersal's bout of writer’s block. Only on "Candy," which has Yasuda doing duty on backing vocals, does Schmersal shine.
Not as essential as High Society, Hocus Pocus is a must-have for Enon fans only. Yasuda’s songs are worth the price of admission alone. Glitchy, poppy and lots of fun, Yasuda gives much needed life to Hocus Pocus. Here’s hoping that the next record will find Schmersal back on his feet.