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After a long absence, Ennui returns with The Myth in Which We Live 

Ennui
The Myth in Which We Live
(self-released)

 

It's been awhile since we've heard from Ennui, the trio of Jim Doutrich, Daniel Burgun and Christopher McDonald. And from the tweaked atmospheres of their new full-length, The Myth in Which We Live, it seems they've been busy reinventing themselves as an electro-pop group. I also suspect they've been listening to a lot of Genesis and M83.

The album opens with "Prelude," a gentle progression buoyed by banjo and drum programming, leading into the seven-minute "Try, Try, Try," which features lush keys and glitchy beats, and snippets from a preacher holding forth about God or something.

The dominant ingredients here are washed-out layers of keyboard and guitar, elaborate drum programming and high, tentative vocals, heavily treated and warbling sweet Bolanesque nothings. You might also pick out a bit of Nintendo sprinkled here and there, and Andres Ortiz-Ferrari, of electronic duo Discuss, lending his talents to "Colors & Shapes."

And the dominant mood is, well, ennui. "Sundried" tells the story of someone looking at his life and realizing he's lost energy for the things he's struggled for. "It's been years and years I've tried now / It's not that I'm getting old / You get sundried."

Some songs have a bit more rhythmic bite, such as "Lil Radio," reminiscent of Doves, and "In the Dark" is cool, nocturnal disco -- both solid grooves. Toward the album's end, "White Illuminate" is almost jarring in the way it switches to rock drum beats and Farfisa organ sounds. "Meet Him Pike Hoses" is one of the album's more bizarre songs, a Beatles-style pop experiment that's gradually obscured by noisy crashes and voices.

Myth is long on studio wizardry, cool effects and pretty textures, and is often stunning on that level. But it also feels too long by about half -- everything I like about the album could be condensed into half an hour, leaving behind a pile of intros, outros and breakdowns, which often feel like they take energy away from the songs instead of building anticipation.

click to enlarge 36_cd_ennui.jpg

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