on 19 October 2003
I wasn't expecting a new Enon album so soon after 2002's High Society, but I'm not complaining: the melodiousness of that album drew favourable comparisons with Weezer (and that's quite a compliment.) On Hocus Pocus we get more of the same: 13 fizzy, catchy, punky, songs, most of them suitable for the dancefloor. The members of Enon have long cv's (see Brainiac, Blonde Redhead, etc.) and have a knack for turning diverse ingredients into hummable tunes.
The singers on Hocus Pocus are Toko Yasuda and John Schmersal. Toko sounds demure (as female Japanese vocalists often do) while John's voice ranges from a breathy, 'lounge' croon (a bit like Stephen Malkmus in his quieter moments) to a howl. Only two tracks feature both singers; the rest are evenly split. Likewise with the instrumentation - a few tracks employ guitars and synths, while most feature one but not the other.
All the songs have a kitschy, trashy quality: the cover artwork is appropriate. John's lyrics are cryptic and quite possibly postmodern (I still don't understand that term). There's no message to Hocus Pocus and certainly no angst; John has said that the band's only aim is to have fun. If you are at all like me, you'll find it contagious. There's nothing remotely dreary about this record - it's playful, it's got the wide dynamics of The Pixies and it's fresh. The band are as adept at playing it slow (as on Candy, a beautiful song) as at playing it fast (as on The Power of Yaw Ning (surely some kind of joke?), which sees John ripping it up and ending on an extra vowel, Mark E. Smith fashion.) Toko sings in English, except on Mikazuki, which she sings in Japanese over a synthesiser tune that sounds like the incidental music from a Kurosawa film set in the Middle Ages.
Hocus Pocus could be just the record for you if you crave melody (there's not a lot of it about at the moment) and/or are fed up with depressing 'issues rock'.