Lost Marbles and Exploded Evidence

Touch and Go

o one, to my knowledge, has ever accused Enon of sounding too crisp and polished. Much of their charm results directly from that hazy, distorted edge that their songs often contain; it's not quite messy, but it's getting there. It's hardly unusual then that one of the most immediately noticeable aspects of Lost Marbles and Exploded Evidence is its unfinished sound. Unlike past Enon albums however, this one sounds a little too unfinished and under-mixed. Virtually every track on Lost Marbles trades in the charm of Enon's ever-changing sound for a stagnant lo-fi layer of noise. In that respect, frontman John Schmersal hypothesis that this album may sound "more like a cohesive record" than any other Enon disc rings true.

Schmersal's assertion is intriguing because Enon didn't record all of these tracks during a single time period. The album features songs from throughout the band's career, pulled primarily from the bevy of 7" vinyl discs they've released over the last few years. Lost Marbles places early records like 1998's "Fly South" alongside more recent efforts, such as 2003's "Evidence." And the disc's structure somehow proves Schmersal right; despite the disparity in eras and varying personnel (Toko Yasuda and Matt Schultz replaced original remember Steve Calhoon) from song to song, it does sound cohesive. Unfortunately, this only proves that cohesiveness doesn't suit Enon well.

One of the reasons that so many people fell in love with Enon, and their 2002 full-length High Society, was their willingness to experiment. They wouldn't hesitate to jump from electro-pop to lounge-jazz to unabashed guitar-rock in the span of three songs; or even in the span of one song, if they thought they could pull it off. Lost Marbles bears a few traces of that experimental nature. Opening track "Knock That Door" rides a funky bass line and playful Yasuda vocals to one of the album's most memorable songs. "Adalania (Not So Fair)" clocks in at under a minute and a half, and seems to parallel "High Society"'s chord structure at times, but also provides one of the disc's best vocal hooks. Meanwhile, album closer "Party Favor" takes an entirely different direction than everything that's preceded it—garage-rock riffing—and does an excellent job of inspiring air-guitaring.

Too often though, Lost Marbles accentuates the characteristics that present Enon as a more mediocre band than they truly are. "Genie's Got Her Bag" drones on for three minutes without ever finding a melody. "Fly South" approaches five minutes, longer than any Enon song should last if it doesn't include a medley of ideas and hooks. And most of the rest of the tracks are even worse—forgettable. Nearly half of the melodies on Lost Marbles are immediately unremarkable, while the others have limited replay value—particularly when compared to Enon's catalogue of full-lengths.

It's appropriate that early pressings of this release come packaged with a DVD featuring Enon music videos and live clips, because it provides a helpful comparison: Like the deleted scenes section on a DVD, albums such as Lost Marbles and Exploded Evidence sound better in theory than they end up in reality. Getting more of a good thing should only turn out well, whether that "good thing" is a band’s b-sides or a film's deleted scenes. However, that assumption doesn't give enough credit to the artist in question. After all, one of the reasons we like theses artists in the first place is because they're smart enough to know what works and what doesn't. And if they felt that these leftovers met their high standard, they'd have included them in their most significant releases, rather than relegating them to b-side albums and special features menus. Ultimately, that's the problem with Lost Marbles and Exploded Evidence. It's not bad; it just feels like a stopgap to hold fans over until Enon has recorded enough material for a new release.

Reviewed by: Luke Adams

Reviewed on: 2005-02-23

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Posted 02/24/2005 - 07:38:58 PM by Snorfle:
 but...but..."Marbles Explode" is pretty great though
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