Author: Jon Schacht
3/24/2009 | Inland Empire Weekly | www.ieweekly.com | Album Review
At last, an act to rival Joan of Arc's Most Pretentious Gits mantle. From cloying band name and supposedly high-falutin' "concept"—the trite-and-true clash between "escapism" and "adult choices"—to willfully difficult passages of guitar-skronk and the singer's androgynous falsetto, Enchanted Islands too often reads like a unilateral "you just don't get it" art-snob attack. Like Tim Kinsella's Chicago act, Eric Ray and Christopher Terry try so hard to subvert traditional song forms in the furtherance of their aesthetic (meant to match the album's dream-like trajectory) that there's rarely anything organic about the process; it's mostly process we hear. "Mermaid Struggle" provides the template, explosions of angular guitar calculus and shifting time signatures meant to contrast with the calm waters of Soft Wave melodies, but instead coming off like Hella crashing an OMD party. Like JoA, what's most frustrating is that when Ray and Terry play it straight you hear how unnecessary all the artsy posturing is. "The Lion's Mouth" is a gorgeous Mark Hollis-like organ blues, "Secrets of the Well" shuffles along in a nice minor-key gait, and the Soft Cell longing of "Baby Shoes" is love-song loveliness. But apparently that's just too simple to be good enough.