Originating in San Francisco back in 2002, Enablers have had a steady output of music. With four LPs and two EPs out there, ‘The Rightful Pivot’ will be the fifth album to come from the band who have become known for their unconventional take on ‘Spoken Word’ music.
It’s difficult to really give Enablers a genre; they are an interesting mix of so many things. There’s the spoken word vocals, stylised on beat poetry of the 50s, leading them down one route, but they are far from a ‘spoken word’ band and the instrumentation below sends them down a different route, oscillating throughout the album with a variety of different moods. At some points there are heavy and noisy refrains with the guitars and drums vying for dominance, at others there are calm, almost shoegaze foundations and there is even an occasional trickling of surf rock or 60s psychedelia that comes through. Perhaps it is as simple as saying that they are a post-rock band of the most classic definition of Simon Reynolds, using rock instruments as facilitators of timbre and textures rather than riffs and power chords.
RELEASE DATE: 07 February 2015 LABEL: Lancashire and Somerset/Exile on Mainstream/Atypeek Music
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Look, Good Shit and Enopolis
Whatever the genre, it’s important that the classification of spoken word music isn’t played up to much, yes it’s true that the spoken word element is a big part of the bands sound, but it is in fact the interplay of the beat poetry of Pete Simonelli atop of the varied and shifting instrumentation below that we should focus on when it comes to the music of Enablers and when listening to ‘The Rightful Pivot’, all of the music and vocals should be appreciated, rather than seeing the music simply as a platter on which the vocals are served.
The album starts off with one of the darker sounding songs ‘Went Right’, dissonant and noisy throughout, loose cymbal crashes clatter on top of fluctuating guitars before turning calmer and coming to a quiet end with Simonelli’s contemplative words above, a similar dark feeling is found later in the album with the songs ‘The Percentages’ and ‘West Virginia’ with discordance, noise and strained vocals being the main characteristics found. The tracks ‘She Calls After You’ and ‘Solo’ show the softer and more relaxed sound that the band can produce, with softened guitars playing repeated motifs whilst the drums remain understated and slow, almost acting as ballads amongst the other songs. This softer sound also appears in ‘Look’ and ‘Good Shit’, but these songs have some differences to the others. ‘Look’ has a feel of the more modern post-rock sound, taking time to evolve and flow over the nine-minute run time, the different instruments move with each other whilst retaining their own place, building over time. ‘Good Shit’ has nuanced moments of a 60s psychedelic vibe, reminiscent of The Doors or Jefferson Airplane at points. The album comes to an end with ‘Enopolis’, possibly the most experimental of the tracks with its freestyle atmosphere. Drum fills flourish alongside feedback loops and strings whilst wailing guitars play on top. It’s a messy track, but one that just sounds right. And it proves to be a lush end to the album.
As for the production of the album there are some let downs, the song production is fine, and the mixing of the songs is not a problem at all, with everything being very level and sound. However, the mix of the album on a whole is at some times problematic and at points does let the album down somewhat. Some songs have seconds of silence at the start and end that leads to a disjointed listen at times. This isn’t a problem that occurs throughout the album, in fact there are some songs that blend into each other very well, with one song following on from where the previous song had left off almost, but with the album feeling so disjointed at times it does at points remove you from experiencing the album as a whole united and flowing record.
With this being said, Enablers, have made a good album with ‘The Rightful Pivot’ and there are definitely some stand out songs that show off what they can do. The original worry going in to the album would be that too much weight would be placed on the spoken word element of the bands sound, but this never becomes a problem since the vocals never overpower the music, the music is allowed to do as much as the vocals are. The problem in the album simply comes down to the disjointed feeling between some of the songs, the occasional silence and the jolt that then follows leaves the listener unable to fully immerse themselves in the album as a listener and instead they feel like an outside observer a shame as with a little more flow, the album would have been a very relaxing and engrossing listen.