Really really great album. This was Jeremy Enigk's first solo album away from Sunny Day Real Estate and it's a totally different kettle of kippers. This is wonderful baroque orchestral-pop with strings and all sorts putting me in mind of Cardinal and Richard Davies. This re-issue comes with the remastered original album plus bonus digital stuff.
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In the time between this record being made and subsequently reissued I'm sorry to tell you that Jeremy Enigk has lost his golden hair. Yup those locks that feature on the back sleeve are no more. However this is the only way the record has dated. Bit o' history first. 'Return of the Frog Queen' is one of those records that arrived at me word of mouth. I think a song on a mixtape started it all. But once I popped I couldn't stop. It's remarkably accomplished menagerie of chamber pop, gentle psych musings and Syd Barrett style whimsical melody.
Enigk's voice thoughis quite remarkable and its not particularly all that palatable either - ranging from scrapy to all out raspy but he uses it to good effect to compose a series of inventive songs that use pianos, harpsichords, harps and a full on orchestra to create an album of dramatic baroque pop that reaches some quite surprising climaxes. Wispy it isn't. 'Shade and the Black Hat' is a tour de force of rolling pianos, staccato strings and Enigk literally screaming his guts out, it showcases the passionate delivery on an album which on 'Explain' takes something that sounds like Nick Drake or something off a Colin Blunstone solo album and adds intensity. At times Enigk's songwriting can be compared with greats such as Tim Hardin. It's that good.
Although he had success with his band Sunny Day Real Estate and further solo works, this is Enigk's masterpiece. The best album of 1996 according to Lou Barlow. And if anyone knows about 1996 it's Lou.
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