Album Review :
Enlou - Body of Friends, Body of Water

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Artist: Enlou
Title: Body of Friends, Body of Water
Label: Lujo Records
Release date: July 27, 2010
Review by: Alex Schelldorf

  1. Amphibian
  2. Ghost of Peace
  3. Mountain Thoughts
  4. Potluck
  5. Creatures of Insight

What the heck is in the water in Ohio?*

Cincinnati has quite suddenly become the mecca of sorts for shoegazey music, home to bands like Enlou, All the Day Holiday and Pomegranates (as well as a Pomegranates offshoot band, Firs; and not to mention bands outside the genre like Bad Veins and Foxy Shazam). It’s the neo-United Kingdom of the late 1980s/early 1990s, albeit several notches more upbeat. Probably less rain too.

Enlou, whose name is a different take on the phrase “in lieu”, presents Body of Friends, Body of Water, a very chill-friendly 5 track EP on the talent-heavy label of Lujo Records.

One of the foremost traits of this particular sub-genre of pop music is the variety of instruments being played and by whom. Vocals are shared on the record by all members, in addition to their other duties: bassist Ben Rush, guitarist/keyboardist Drew Jacoby, guitarist/vibraphonist/drummer Curt Kiser, guitarist/drummer James Bishop and guitarist/drummer/sampler/everything man Robert Ritter.

Amphibian” bubbles up with a quirky guitar lead and jaunty drums, which eventually settle and become subdued for a moment before ending as the track began. Lyrically, I feel the song speaks to the undeniable evidence of a creator and how our time here on earth is but a vapor:

There is a lift in the breeze, there is a voice in the snow
when the world was reborn it was destined to grow
There is a feeling I get from time to time
that my place is not here and this body is not mine

Bassist Ben Rush serves as lead vocalist, and his voice reminds me strongly of his namesake, Jukebox the Ghost’s Ben Thornewill, a talented fellow in his own right. However, with the vocal duties spread amongst all members, the comparison to Jukebox grows much stronger. If I had to boil (or blend, okay) down their sound to a single (delicious) sentence, I’d say it’s like Ben Thornewill and company made a Pomegranates and Firs smoothie and then sang about it. Maybe while they were drinking it. Firs probably don’t blend very well.

Ghost of Peace” is my favorite song on the EP. Upbeat and warm with some almost harp-like picking throughout, its “Nobody takes my hope / Nobody steals my home” hook is infectious. The song speaks of the artful, creative and beautiful nature of the ghost of peace.

There was a ghost in Eden that saw the fall of man.
I met the holy phantom. And I was given freedom

Grow up and make a family.
Get money, get what you need.
So much will beg to differ with the art of the ghost of peace.

Rush’s words ring true, particularly because we as believers and non-believers alike are torn with one of the unbearably foremost message of the world: consumerism and consumption. But there is more to live for in life than just stuff and things, and that process is sometimes a slow one, painfully slow even. The “art”, perhaps, is learning from our mistakes over time, as the greatest artists most often do. No one can be perfect straight out of the gate — or ever.

Mountain Thoughts” is an ode to childhood wonderment and curiosity. The track can be viewed as the “softest” on the album, if that matters to you, the listener. If you’re not into sentimentality and nostalgia, you probably won’t particularly care for the lyrics, but for those who can appreciate their childhoods, the lyrics will hit home without those uneasy tinges of melodrama these types of words usually conjure up:

All our thoughts are mountain tops.
Do we climb alone?
There is still in my mind a little home in 1995. I was 5.
And the world was big and in younger times.
My good friends, they were trees and I was pleased
when I was good to my mom. My father sang songs.
If I had known that when I’d grow, there would be oh so many things.
Let’s leave the bee hive.

Though I could be wrong, I don’t actually think that “Let’s leave the bee hive” relates to the previous line. I actually quite like that the penultimate line seems or feels like an incomplete thought, leaving to the reader the right to presume, and to the writer a bit of mystique in his words.

Potluck” is a dreamy work, with some vague shades of Lydia (not a bad thing) both in vocals and meandering guitars/keys. The track features the killer line “He will communicate with the movement of our blood”, another gem from the album, and a fascinating visual at that.

The EP’s closer, “Creatures of Insight” presents some clever and original drumming in addition to more insightful lyrics:

Scenes from the past are repeating.
Yeah I know I must go many years without knowing some things
Sometimes we have to see why we have had such vivid dreams.
Sometimes we dig the ground to look for things already found.
Found in the moonlight all the creatures of insight. Never die.

It’s truly refreshing to see creativity at work within Body of Friends…. Two thumbs up. I wish I could give it more. I just don’t need more than 2 opposable phalanges. 9 thumbs up, but please get 4 of your friends to help (even if one friend only has 1 thumb). If you have 9 thumbs, I don’t know if I want to be friends with you.

To the musicians in the region, I say: whatever’s in the air, keep breathing it in, because the goodies you’ve exhaled recently have been golden.

Overall: Quirky and fun, like playing in the rain. I wish there were more bands like this in the “Christian underground scene” or whatever it’s being called these days.

Recommended if you like: Pomegranates, Firs, All the Day Holiday, Solia Tera, figuring out what else there is to do in Ohio except leaving or touring. Also, check out their previous EP, Threshing Floor.

*Answer: Aqua fueling a couple of bad improving (but still mostly bad) baseball teams and not much else.