I Can Make A Mess-Enola
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: June 11, 2013
I think that everybody has somebody who just, you know, gets what they’re about. Without ever knowing them, this person just knows exactly what it takes to pull needles out of their heart with the graceful and elegant precision. For me, Ace Enders has always been that person. It’s almost eerie, how effortlessly he’s able to craft song after song that repeatedly knocks me off my ass while, somehow at the same time, setting my mind at ease for one constant, calming moment. Without sounding too much like a gushy diary entry, I have to say that there are few people who I am able to count on more than Ace Enders.
So when word came around that he’d be releasing a new record under I Can Make A Mess this year, titled Enola, I experienced a kind of anticipation and excitement like I’d never felt before. When I think a record’s going to be good, my internal monologue goes something like this: “wow, I think that maybe we’ve got a great record coming our way.” When I heard about Enola, however, it was more like this: “There’s a great record coming our way.” The differences are subtle, but essential. After years of hearing nothing but outstanding work from Enders, I’m now at the point where I don’t have to worry about whether or not his next release will be great. Rather, I know it will be. And, as always, I was right. Enola is an expansive, varied, and tight collection of songs that show, once again, that Enders is one of the best in the business.
For someone who’s been at it for as long as Ace has, it’s hard to believe that Enola sounds as wide-awake as any debut. While this record is the fourth full-length entry into the I Can Make A Mess (I guess it’s my business now?) cannon, Enola is largely incomparable to the other albums, sonically speaking. The songs jump from airy and triumphant crescendos a la Bon Iver (“Enola,” “Wrinkle”) to summery, synth-based sing-alongs (“Tidal Wave,” “Listen Lesson/Keep Away”) to effective combinations of the two (“Burn It All Down”) for another painstakingly crafted, and somehow cohesive release.
While Enola is definitely different from anything that Enders has ever done before, it certainly does not lack the reserved, yet honest personality that has made his releases great since 2002’s For All Of This. This is evident as soon as the title track washes ashore amid building drums and falsetto, with a repeated chorus of “you are not alone” ringing just under the surface. “Wrinkle” builds on the style of the title track, but feels even more accomplished and well-executed, digging deeper and deeper under the skin with every second. While the lyricism may seem a bit simple on its own, it feels as if, more than ever, Enders has ingrained these words so deeply within the songs themselves that even the simplest repeated line (“I guess this is the middle”) can hit harder than almost anything else released this year.
While the more Bon Iver-like tracks take spots among the best songs that Ace has ever written (“Lions”), some of the most entertaining and successful cuts on Enola come surprisingly out of left field. “Listen Lesson/Keep Away” and “Tidal Wave” sound like the kind of songs that a robot would play on an overcast beach day, completely blowing away the anti-computer version of Enders who released the caustic “Digital Age” just last year. This is a welcome and fitting progression for a man who never seems to rest or stay stagnant.
Ace’s greatest accomplishment on Enola, however, is his ability to intertwine these diverse cuts almost seamlessly, showing his continuing growth as a producer. The songs connect via short, underwater-sounding piano riffs that flow out from the end of some of the songs and into the beginning of the next. It’s the little nuances like these that make Enola such a crowning achievement as an album, as opposed to a collection of songs. The only misstep here is the inclusion of synth-doused “What Happens Now,” which would have worked better out of the context of the album.
“Come and settle down I found my place in line/ Come and settle down I know exactly what is right” sings Enders during the album’s stunning finale “Thin White Line, and I oblige without thinking. I’m here; I’m along for the ride and that goes without saying. I’ll settle down and wait for the next record, and I’ll sleep soundly until then, knowing he’ll knock the wind out of me once more.
“Listen Lesson/Keep Away” and “Tidal Wave” sound like the kind of songs that a robot would play on an overcast beach day
Like you would know what happens at a beach.
Good review. The album flows well, but definitely nothing like the perfect flow of The World We Know. Listening to Lions from the Share with Everyone EP, you would never think it would fit into an album like this. But it does perfectly.