Gifts from Enola is a four-piece post-rock band hailing from Harrisonburg, Virginia. Their first album titled Loyal Eyes Betrayed the Mind is certainly an engaging experience, schizophrenically leading the listener through multiple genres within the same song. While post-rock greats have somewhat created a formula for the structure of their songs, Gifts from Enola have eschewed that in favor of creating an album that sounds paranoid, dense, eerie, and beautiful all at once. There are gorgeous ambient interludes within songs that give way to abrupt walls of guitar feedback and acrobatic, dissonant riffing. This certainly is an album that must be looked at from a “whole” perspective, as Loyal Eyes Betrayed the Mind tells a story through the music. The incredibly affecting songwriting screams of some epic tale that is not simply for our ears, giving this album the emotional equivalent of watching an argument unfold through soundproof glass. You see the contorted facial expressions, but may not understand the underlying details surrounding it. This certainly is a stretch in terms of describing music, but that is exactly the point here. Loyal Eyes Betrayed the Mind is an abstract and poetic record, choosing to incorporate ethereal passages without sounding boring and apply pounding aggression without sounding trite. It can be dense and overwrought one moment, then the floor falls out and you are left with an airy, beautiful soundscape. It ends up being everything but formulaic, which sets it apart from so many similar acts in the genre.
The small details of Loyal Eyes Betrayed the Mind are what give the interesting music such a powerful punch. The hypnotic guitar line over the muted drumbeat in ‘We Watched Them Lose Our Minds’ and the perfectly-placed minimalist electronics at the beginning of ‘With the Tides In Hindsight’ create an atmosphere that can read (or listen) differently to each person that hears the record. One can distinctly hear the desperation in songs like ‘Screaming At Anything That Moved’, as the brooding guitars build up to a frenzied, galloping guitar riff and then taper off into an interesting guitar line with huge amounts of delay. Throughout the album, muttered and distorted voices make appearances. You can never quite make out what is being said, but that appears to be Gifts of Enola’s intention. There is a certain feeling of madness that pervades the whole affair, which is supplemented by a mostly tense atmosphere that is created through slowly strummed chords and distorted feedback. Amidst the praises that this album has received thus far in the review, the positives also play a role in its downfall. Those who are looking for a light listen will not find it here; if you are not willing to invest the time into listening to the album in its entirety, it will be a letdown to most. The excellent subtleties lose its luster when single songs are listened to, and the emotional payoff of the superb closer ‘Memoranda’ is much less if not listened to in the context of the entire album. The guitar that begins to wail two and half minutes into the song is the absolute definition of joyous fervor, and after experiencing the entire album, there could not be a more fitting song to end the album.
Gifts of Enola have created an excellent album, but many may not see the benefit in sticking around through the songs that are a bit slow to start (‘Behind Curtains Closing’, ‘We Watched Them Lose Our Minds’). The real ingenuity of the record is that there are great moments in each song, instead of a single song being the highlight. It creates a continuity that is sorely needed in an album such as this and superbly tells a story without words. The abstractness of the music is complemented by the atmosphere, and there are many post-rock releases that miss the mark where Loyal Eyes Betrayed the Mind hits it perfectly
1. Behind Curtains Closing
2. Early Morning Ambulance
3. City Lights Scraped the Sky
4. In the Company of Others
5. With the Tides in Hindsight
6. Miles of White
7. We Watched Them Lose Our Minds
8. Screaming at Anything That Moved