Erica Nockalls - EN2
For those unfamiliar with Erica, she's the violinist of The Wonder Stuff, and although admittedly I probably wouldn't have heard of her without these ties, her own material is clearly her own - a hybrid of everything plus kitchen sinks thrown into a blender and elegantly composed to make sense. This is her second album, hence the EN2 title (that or her personality has become squared?) and is a natural progression from her debut. The first track starts off so abstractly I thought my stereo was broken. This is no bad thing, my hears were finely honed in!
Whats clear is this album overall is a lot heavier and angsty than her first album, but varied enough to still have some relaxing parts, if that's more your bag. "Yours still stinks" is a brilliant fuse of violins, angry guitars and a chorus that makes the few hairs I have left on my head stand up! On the relaxing side there's "Arrows + Gods" that starts off beautifully and then becomes very stripped back. It's a break from the intensity but personally I'm all about the intense so I felt this song takes a while to get somewhere. "64 Broken Teeth" is a rush of a song before we're back into slow stripped territory beginnings of the next track (which is a pattern on a few tracks), but the chorus is just wondrous so I can't complain too much. "freight" has a great basic but catchy synth and beat going for it that never gets boring despite no obvious chorus, and a few tracks later Erica goes off her trolley and goes insane on "Second Hand Black Hole" which is certainly interesting to hear.
Let's hope she regains a little sanity to make a third album, because EN2 is a great piece of work and deserves to be in your CD collection. (You still buy those, right?) -Matt Barker