I Can Make A Mess

Enola

Written by: TL on 16/11/2013 16:03:15

Since breaking through with his early noughties emo/pop-punk group The Early November, 31 year old New Jerseyian Arthur 'Ace' Enders has proven himself a musician through and through: One that's going to stick around persistently in one capacity or other, continuing to make his presence felt through his band's hiatus, with personal projects like Ace Enders And A Million Different People and I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business, the latter of which he's still carrying on even now that The Early November has resumed activities.

Granted, the name has been shortened, but otherwise the I Can Make A Mess moniker is still progressing calmly with its sixth studio full length "Enola", which sees Enders move even further away from sounding like somebody who once bounced around in living room shows, and more like somebody who belongs on a barista's iPod. And by that I mean that while the previous effort "Gold Rush" retained a slightly high-strung forwardness clearly reminiscent of other emo songwriter projects like Dashboard Confessional, "Enola" is considerably more subdued, introverted and effect-based, channeling more Copeland than Chris Carabba - like Enders is singing the songs to himself in his home studio more than he's singing them to the listener at the other end of the album experience.

If that's some sort of mark of maturation or increased authenticity however, I think it's a regrettable one, because it restrains "Enola" in the role of an album that it takes some attentive digging to get into. Lyrically and vocally, Enders seems to be musing to himself, while most of his concentration seems bound up in letting his indie/folksy acoustic guitar melodies flirt with various electronic trends of the time. The overall vibe is deceptively calm, even while wailing electric guitar sneaks into "Enola" and "Adaptation Cell" and horns beckon in early in "Wrinkle" before drums roll like distant thunder towards its end. Mainly though the album seems most interested in indietronica as it moves across its middle, experimenting with dubstep super-light in "Listen Lesson / Keep Away" and "Tidal Wave" and eventually bringing references to mind all the way from Bon Iver, across Owl City and over to Bombay Bicycle Club.

Employing relatively simple dynamics of pop music, the songs are chorus oriented and hence moderately catchy, with "Wrinkle" being a good example of how the contextual verse lyrics are given room on top of subtle acoustics while the instrumental experimentation kicks up around the chorus repetition. "Lions" stands out with one of the most aroused vocal performances in an otherwise relatively drowsy album, stretching to conjure up a list of colourful similes, while "What Happens Now" is perhaps the most forward and incidentally most catchy song on offer, with it's heavy beat and encouraging words: "Carry on, it's not your fault, you'll get over heartache".

While fans will likely applaud Enders for exploring such a diverse and contemporary stylistical palette away from The Early November's bread-and-butter emo rock, I can't help but to feel that things on "Enola" inevitably feel a bit underdeveloped. Granted, Enders rendezvous with many different elements across the ten track effort, but the encounters remain superficial flirtations in my view, sounding content with just meshing things into I Can Make A Mess' signature songwriter style yet never really refining the cocktail to the point where the various songs has truly individual impact. It's the sort of thing that'll suit you when you want to sleep on the train or wake up slowly on a weekend morning, but as for striking a lasting impression, I'm sad to report that I don't think "Enola" is particularly strong.

6

Download: What Happens Now, Listen Lesson / Keep Away
For The Fans Of: Copeland, Death Cab For Cutie, Bon Iver, Owl City
Listen: facebook.com/icanmakeamessofficial

Release Date 11.06.2013
Rise Records

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