Enon Hocus-Pocus

[Touch & Go; 2003]

Rating: 3.5/5

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

I come from a small town in Ohio called Enon (and we always pronounced it Enin and not E-Non. Just, FYI. Anyway, Hocus-Pocus is the third Enon album and the maiden voyage of of this incarnation of Enon (John Schmersal on vocals, guitar and everything else; Matt Schulz on percussion; and Toko Yasuda on vocals, bass and everything else) having lost Steve Calhoun and Rick Lee to their former band, Skeleton Key. The changing dynamics haven’t hurt Enon any, but then again they also haven’t added anything new.

The opening song, “Shave” is a logical extension of last year’s High Society. It’s such a logical extension, in fact, that most of the first side is largely unremarkable except for the second track, “The Power of Yawning,” which hearkens back to Believo! and also to the kinetic skronk of Brainiac. The next few songs are about as formulaic as Enon can get and the territory is distinctly familiar.

And then just when you think you’ve got Enon pegged for the ostentatious indie-rockers that they are, they throw out a song like “Mikazuki” which opens with a hollow and jangly tinkering of synthesized beats that are fleshed out by Yasuda’s twee kitten-like vocals. She’s cute and also sultry. “Mikazuku” leads into “Candy” which features a duet between Schmersal and Yasuda which takes absolute full advantage of everything at their disposal. Its eccentric melodies and unlikely vocals almost shouldn’t work together, but just do. The second half of Hocus-Pocus dips back into the malaise of the first half.

The only shame in Hocus-Pocus is that it takes about five songs for Enon to find their footing and then they kinda blow their wad in the center of the album. While Enon’s live shows can make even the most stationary indie-rocker go from tapping his or her Puma-clad foot into spasmodic, beer-spilling gyrations; the albums, on the other hand, keep promising something better is on the way that Enon has yet to deliver. They’re not a band to let circumstances keep them down, though, and it’s a safe bet that Enon will keep plucking away until they get it.

1. Shave
2. The Power of Yawning
3. Murder Sounds
4. Storm the Gates
5. Daughter in the House of Fools
6. Mikazuki
7. Candy
8. Monsoon
9. Utz
10. Spanish Boots
11. Starcastic
12. Litter in the Gutter
13. Hocus Pocus

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