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Wednesday, Oct 1 2003
On "Hocus-Pocus," the only syrup-slow ballad on Enon's album of the same name, vocalist John Schmersal exhales a bizarre bit of sensual imagery -- namely, "drunk on the candy of you," an apt, if confusing, aphorism. Like the NYC trio's previous effort, High Society, this LP offers a disconcerting assortment of genres that baffles the taste buds but ultimately proves to be an appetizing introduction to Enon's sweet intoxication.

Not unlike the New Pornographers, but with a less cohesive sound, Enon has a charm that grows from its ability to meld the disparate styles of multiple songwriters -- in this case, Schmersal (formerly of Brainiac) and Toko Yasuda (one-time bassist for Blonde Redhead). Schmersal's writing often broods, sometimes explicitly, as on the bass-heavy reflection of "Storm the Gates," but often more implicitly, as on "Spanish Boots," one of the record's strongest tracks. There, a bold, glammy guitar leads into a chorus dominated by the smirking line "Having the same conversation, the same hell," delivered in a vocal rhythm designed to keep listeners guessing and tapping their feet. The Yasuda-penned numbers provide an electro foil to the more rock-oriented contributions by Schmersal. Her catchiest tune, "Daughter in the House of Fools," begins with a rudimentary snare drum that gives way to jerky bursts of electrostatical beats and bouncy rhymes delivered in girlish moans: "Ice cream smooth/ Is the sugar gonna get her tooth?"

Occasionally, the two vocalists come together, as on "Murder Sounds," a perfect postmodern male-female duet that pairs Yasudo's sweet, ethereal coos with Schmersal's epic '80s Brit delivery. The interplay creates a rather eerie atmosphere, heightened by spooky sound effects and a film noir piano tinkling in the background.

Though Hocus-Pocus does, admittedly, sound like a different brain generated each alternating track, Enon manages to bring it all together within a hip, danceable mix propped up by an invitingly hyper rhythm section and vocal melodies that sweetly stick.

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Nancy Einhart


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