As the press release accompanying this latest long-player from Enablers stresses, there’s no ‘The’ in their name, something which I am always keen to point out when evangelising this most individual outfit to anyone who I think will be interested. (To the uninitiated, they’re several worlds away from early 2000s punk/rock n’ roll band The Enablers).
I first encountered the band when a friend handed me a CDR (remember those?) copy of their 2004 debut End Note. I was immediately hooked; caught up in the poignant, sometimes disturbing and always emotive lyrics of resident poet Pete Simonelli and how they worked so brilliantly with the ebb and flow of the music. It may sound cheesy to describe something as a musical canvas, but Enablers manage to paint such vivid pictures with their music; both lyrics and instrumentation always enjoying a satisfyingly symbiotic existence.
It took me a while after that to catch up with the rest of their catalogue via online streaming – something I’m grateful for, considering the band’s DIY sensibilities and sometimes limited availability of albums. Indeed, they’ve had releases out on a number of indies, not least this latest effort, which I was understandably eager to hear.
Phone Blows Up starts things off in a relatively traditional fashion, with a straight four-four and an infectious riff, then Simonelli‘s unmistakable tones make their presence known and it’s like Enablers have never been away. I’ve always thought of myself as a ‘riff over vocals’ type when it comes to music, but Simonelli‘s poetry (because that’s what it is – I don’t care how pretentious that sounds) takes centre stage here and as always, completely grabs my attention for the duration of the album. It’s not just the beautifully descriptive content, but the quality of his voice – wry, world-weary, and peppered by erratic bursts of righteous anger: ‘You know when the keenest of people know when to shut up?…’ he cries at one point.
It’s rare for a band to be able to make thirty-five minutes sound so epic, but such is the creative brilliance and songwriting skill of Enablers that they manage to do so…
Second track Beam continues proceedings in a typically introspective style, Sam Ospovat‘s skilful percussive flourishes, fitting the art-inspired lyrics perfectly. The track drifts almost unnoticeably into The Stink Of Purity, as long-time guitarists Joe Goldring and Kevin Thomson make their mark through layers of thoughtful string-work, until Simonelli brings the song to a close enigmatically, concluding: ‘I still want to hit someone, then kiss them on the lips, not to say sorry, but I told you so.’
The album continues to ebb and flow on its meandering journey, one that will be familiar to long-time fans, but also serves as an effective introduction to what the band are about for those new to their unique sound. As its name would suggest, Suburban Death March is both purposeful and driven, and a great showcase for Ospovat‘s stick skills, while once again proving that nobody can say ‘motherfucker’ as eloquently as Simonelli. Indeed, And Other Oddities Of The Brain is one of the album’s most musically laid-back tracks, giving him ample space to flex his sinewy lyrical muscles.
Probably the record’s punkiest track, Monkey To Man stomps around in suitably simian fashion, while The Scythe is a short, soothing slice of minimalism, a fitting intermission before penultimate track Willard To Kurtz rears its troubled head. It’s an epic; a feedback and noise-laden beast full of foreboding and menace, as Simonelli announces its arrival in fittingly portentous style: ‘I don’t turn the light on until noon…’ Driven by purposeful low-end, closing track Year Of The Dog powers along, bringing the album to an abrupt end in suitably discordant fashion, as each of Enabler‘s instrumentalists fights for the last word.
It’s rare for a band to be able to make thirty-five minutes sound so epic, but such is the creative brilliance and songwriting skill of Enablers that they manage to do so. This is a perfectly crafted album that showcases everything that the band are about and is a more than worthy addition to their catalogue.
Scribed by: Simon Brotherton