Enon – Believo!

5 out of 5

Label: See Thru Broadcasting

Producer: Dave Sardy

This isn’t an album I really had to re-listen to to get a current opinion, since it flutters into my playlist semi-regularly and got the shit played out of it when I first got it, which, I spittily spew, was when it first came out, thanks to ads in Magnet magazine that made sure to highlight the press blurb about the group containing members of Skeleton Key.  Yes, I took a moment to proclaim bona fides, supposed decades after I no longer care.  But that bias is important (though I suppose the timeframe isn’t…) – I was following Rick Lee and Schmersal and Calhoon from Skeleton Key, and the weirdo vibe of Believo! absolutely did not disappoint as a followup to, at the time, their sole album of Fantastic Spikes.  Caught via Sardy’s raw and rich vibe, starting with the odd quirk of ‘Rubber Car’ into the slimy slink of ‘Cruel,’ the heartfelt lo-fi rock of ‘Conjugate the Verbs’ (a version of the Enon sound to which frontman Schmersal would thankfully return on Hocus Pocus) and on to straight freakouts like ‘Come Into’ – and this is all the first half of the album – there’s not a moment, not a moment, not a moment of ‘Believo!’ that didn’t capture my interest with a new twist, all grounded with John’s songwriting sensibilities and half-surreal lyrics, which admittedly avoid some of the more obvious stylistic notes of Erik Sanko.  I obviously love Sanko and Skeleton Key, but once you recognize the sound, you can recognize the sound, whereas Enon initially felt like this wholly original beast, limbs flailing everywhere but still identifiable as one creature.

I had my issues with the girlfriend factor bringing in fucking cutesy pop into the mix with the next record, plus Lee and Calhoon moving on did remove a lot of the freedom Schmersal had with crafting the sounds on Believo!, but blah blah I suppose it allowed him to make the band more his own and not be labeled as a Skeleton Key spin-off.  Making this the generally worst reviewed record of Enon’s career and not the one that gave them true indie presence, but it’s still the one that takes the cake for me, all energy and purity and momentum, much like ‘Spikes’ for SK.  The cover art and color scheme is awesome, it’s some of Sardy’s best production work and was put out through his sadly defunct See Thru label, and John wouldn’t turn in better pop songs than the ones sprinkled here.

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