Enon High Society

[Touch & Go; 2002]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: underground rock, indie rock, retro punk
Others: Brainiac, Helio Sequence, Pixies, Blonde Redhead

Enon is cool. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Some bands seem pretty cool on the surface, which is more often than not credited to their music, but Enon is cool in every way, even before you experience their intense live show or hear their music. However, pinpointing what makes Enon so cool proves difficult. With many indie pop groups, their appeal lies under the assumption that they were weird nerds back in high school, which somehow, someway makes them cool now since they didn't turn into CSCI majors or marine biologists, go figure. But it's different with Enon. They have a natural coolness to them. If they had all gone to the same high school, I can picture them keeping to themselves, hanging out in the art department, smoking fags and looking in vogue while they strut down the hallway in fuck-the-world fashion. Even now, they emit a youthful exuberance, coupled with a penchant for quirkiness, all wrapped up in a fresh and unique style, rendering the group both lovable, irresistible, and ultimately better than you. With High Society, the group's cool-o-meter jumps up two notches, surpassing Clinic and Les Savy Fav.

Enon is one of the few indie pop bands that effortlessly create original, unique melodies while still sounding conventional, like experiencing Sgt. Pepper's for the first time. As illustrated in the band's CD sleeve that features a retro version of the not-too-distant future, Enon's music sounds both futuristic and retro, opposed to most bands that either sound far ahead of our time or pastiche. It's hyper-danceable punk music for a generation that's not afraid to go to a show dressed up, like a super trendy New York club replete with disco balls and neon lights.

The most noticeable addition to Enon's arsenal is Toko Yasuda (ex-Blonde Redhead). Her chipmunk vocals and cute synth playing adds a whole new perspective to Enon's sound, especially on "In This City" and "Disposable Parts." Instead of relying on different styles, variation is derived from the juxtaposition of Yasuda's and John Schmersal's vocals. The two compliment each other perfectly, which is in its most affective form on "Carbonation" where the two sing the chorus in tandem. And Schmersal has definitely refined his voice as he can vary from soft crooning ("Count Sheep") to a zany bellow ("Shoulder").

Another noticeable change is the fidelity of the music. At times, Believo! (2000) sounded so lo-fi that it was hard to determine whether the hiss was the result of poor equipment or was intended decoration, causing some of the songs difficult to listen to at high volumes. With High Society, you can pump up your stereo as loud as you want; the production is perfect for late-night head banging. And with this stronger sound quality, the weird noises that Enon often employs get more than their money's worth.

Compared to Believo!, High Society shows a more focused group; the mood, tempo, and style is fairly consistent throughout. It was fun to listen to Believo! because it was all over the sonic map; the songs were puerile in the sense that every weird or unusual idea seemed to muscle its way into the album, whereas High Society seems more calculated. At best, the consistency captures the group developing its own unique sound; any given song on the album is a fair representation of present-day Enon. At worst, it could be dwindling signs of the bittersweet rambunctious spontaneity that characterized previous efforts.

But in the end, High Society reigns supreme over Believo!. "Count Sheep," "In This City," "Native Numb," "Diamond Raft," "Old Dominion," and "Shoulder" are all stronger than nearly every song on Believo!, and most of the other songs equal in intensity. Yes, Enon's sound is refined and a bit more straightforward, but I would trade clear direction for side-stepping when an album such as High Society is the result. Plus, Yasuda's voice is fuckin' sexy. If that doesn't motivate you to buy the album, then I don't know what will.

1. Old Dominion
2. Count Sheep
3. In This City
4. Window Display
5. Native Numb
6. Leave it to Rust
7. Disposable Parts
8. Sold!
9. Shoulder
10. Pleasure and Privilege
11. Natural Disasters
12. Carbonation
13. Salty
14. High Society
15. Diamond Raft

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