I Can Make a Mess – Enola
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: June 11th 2013
Last summer, the new The Early November record, In Currents, came out on my birthday, and while I was never really familiar with it, I did love frontman Ace Enders’ voice and his lyrics. He definitely had a knack for writing a good song, and I did know about his solo project, I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business, now shortened to merely I Can Make a Mess. I have a copy of his first, and self-titled record, but ultimately, it was overlooked by me at the time last year, because I was into so many other things. I’m going to go back to it eventually, but I decided to check out I Can Make a Mess’ new record, and first for Rise Records, Enola. Indie rock has been really good this year so far, with new records by Atlas Genius, Youngblood Hawke, Gold Fields, Frightened Rabbits, Local Natives, Eisley, and a ton of other bands, so this is a record that fits nicely with all of them. The best thing about this, though, is that it’s all over the map, in terms of indie-rock and indie-pop. Some tracks are folksy, some are indie-pop, some are indie-rock, some are acoustic, it’s all over the place, but it does make for a very concise and flowing listen. Since I’m minimally familiar with Ace Enders, this record is also very interesting to me, because he is an artist that I’ve wanted to listen to more of for awhile, but never had the time, thanks to other records being released. Another nice thing right off the bat is that it’s only about 40 minutes, which is an average length for a record. It’s not too long, but not too short, so it feels like you, the listener, are getting a full experience, and a nice helping, so to speak. It’s a very eclectic record, with a lot of indie and folk influences running throughout the entire record, even if some of those influences run rather dry at certain points. If you’re a fan of The Early November, there is a huge chance that you’ll enjoy I Can Make a Mess, too.
The record starts things off with the title track, “Enola.” A lot of records are starting off with the title tracks now, such as Eisley’s new record Currents, and City and Colour’s new record The Hurry and the Harm. It’s a rather brash decision to make, but Enders pulls it off nicely. The title track is a really chilled out folk track, but it’s still a nice way to start off the record. It’s rather quiet, but it’s great to hear Enders and a guitar. His voice is lovely, and there are plenty of moments on this record where that’s shown. There are also some really interesting guitar tones on the record, but I don’t know if it’s intentional, they drown out Enders’ voice at some points, and it’s slightly annoying. As an “intro” track, however, it does its job nicely. It gets the listener very pumped to listen to the rest of the record, and the rest of the record that follows is great. Second track “Wrinkle” sounds quite similar to the first track, and while it doesn’t do much for me, it’s still enjoyable. The real highlights come a bit later, but the first two tracks have a very folksy feel to them, if anything. Speaking of which, as I mentioned, the entire record is all over the place in terms of indie, but it’s not inconsistent, to the point where there’s absolutely no direction on this record. There’s a fine line between having variety and having no direction. Thankfully, this record pulls it off nicely. Third track “Close Enough” is another folk track with some handclaps thrown in for good measure, while fifth track “Listen Lesson / Keep Away” is a nice, laidback indie-pop track. If there’s one thing that bothers me so far, it’s that the record is way too slow. It’s not boring, but the first four songs are all slow folk tracks that really don’t do much. The next few songs, including “Listen Lesson / Keep Away” are a lot more energetic and engaging than the first few tracks. I appreciate the variety, but the fact that the record’s first third is full of quiet folk songs that don’t go anywhere or do much of anything.
Like I said, the next few tracks that very energetic and enjoyable. “Tides” is another indie-pop track that almost resembles something Adam Young from Owl City would come out. Enders’ voice finally comes out in full force, and it’s absolutely fantastic. If the record was full of more songs like this, or at least started it off, I could definitely get into it more. The bridge even has a saxophone, or at least what appears to be one, which makes it stand out even more. At around four minutes, the song suddenly changes tempo and a piano riff closes the song for the last minute, which is pretty cool, but it’s quite a sudden change, but it leads into seventh track “Lions,” which is another slowed down acoustic song but it slowly transform into an indie-pop track. It’s honestly my favorite track on the record, and if I had to sum up the entire record in one song, it would definitely be that one. As the record goes on, it all becomes an indie-pop record suddenly. “Ancient Crows,” “What Happens Now,” and “Burn It All Down” are both little indie-pop gems that have very memorable hooks, even if they are repeated plenty of times throughout the song. Last track, “Thin White Line,” is another slowed down acoustic track, which brings the record full circle. All in all, this record is yet addition to Ace Enders discography and it proves that this man can do no wrong. Granted, it’s not a perfect record, it’s a bit repetitious, and the first few tracks are rather derivative, but overall, it’s a very fun listen.