Enemies
Valuables


4.0
excellent

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
December 8th, 2016 | 44 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A parting gift of endless replayability.

As a critic and a consumer, the news of Valuables' impending arrival was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that it would be a new offering from mathy Irish post-rock darlings Enemies. A curse in that it would be their last as a group.

As a critic and a consumer, the news of their impending breakup is tough to take. Previous outing Embark, Embrace, is perhaps one of my favorite albums of all time. It's a record that delicately balances dark and light sounds along grooves that manage to both feel natural and sound impressive - both in technicality and effect. Its chants were infectious; its themes were masterfully cyclical. The group's incorporation of shimmering, mallet-based percussion among tremolo driven post-rock structures just made the album even better.

As a critic and a consumer, it's hard to give that up.

But as a person who has read of the conflict behind the scenes and the struggle to unify behind one artistic vision and complete a record, you have to wonder if maybe it's okay to let go. Maybe it's better to let go than to risk the frienships. Maybe it's better to let go than to risk becoming something ugly and dysfunctional. Maybe it's better to let go now and to leave a shining legacy. And if, as a result, we consumers must let go, at least Enemies have given us something we can put on repeat for years to come.

Following one of its predecessors' apparent mantras, Valuables is an excessively good option for your preferred media client's repeat functionality, riding along the same effortless breeze of tremolo, groovy math, and plenty of bass where beginning flows casually to end and end flows casually to beginning. Though the ethereal chanting found on the previous record has evolved into more fully-fleged, airy singing in parts ("Glow") and that shimmering malleted percussion has given way to hazy electronics that never quite come to a full drone (except, perhaps, on "Don't Go"), the same spirit of spritely, rhythmically-driven post-rock that was embodied in Embark, Embrace inhabits Valuables. It's just a little longer in the tooth and slower in step at times.

While one need look no further than the upbeat refrain of "Houran" or the playful warblings and introductory a cappella chanting of "Play Fire" for evidence of the band's signature swagger, there's an uneasy tension to tracks like "Leaves" (which would easily fit in on the darker side of Embark, Embrace a la "Nighthawks"), the densely electronic "Don't Go," and "Phoenix Lights" that paints a darker cloud over the band's bright horizons. For better or worse, the album becomes like watching a weather system starting with the bright skies of "Itsallwaves" and developing into the dark and thunderous clouds of its final tracks. All only to rain and once again reveal the sun at the beginning of the album.

While its brighter moments are generally its better moments from my vantage, it's hard to deny the value and purpose of the storm in such a cycle. And for a band releasing their final album, developing such beautiful replayability is one of the sweetest parting gifts to us critics and consumers. Though Enemies have chosen the valuable things in life instead of forcing themselves to appease us, they've found a sort of compromise in releasing an album that will keep us sated for ages, while they can go about taking the steps necessary to ensure their own personal harmonies. While I'm plenty disappointed that there won't be another Enemies album on the horizon anytime soon, I feel that there's something valuable in passing through the moments and movements before "Itsallwaves" kicks off again.



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user ratings (61)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Moderator
December 8th 2016


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Probably didn't say enough about the music or something. This is a band that managed to get personal for me somehow, so that's where a lot of my focus has been when listening to this.



Embark, Embrace is still my favorite of the two, but this follows close behind (We've Been Talking is rad as well). Shame to see this band end.

Digging: Disperse - Forward

FullOfSounds
December 8th 2016


12618 Comments


Great review. Kinda interested in checking this band.

You repeat "As a critic and consumer" a couple times, redundant.

Digging: Jesca Hoop - Memories Are Now

AtomicWaste
Moderator
December 8th 2016


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"You repeat "As a critic and consumer" a couple times, redundant. "



This was intentional, actually.

FullOfSounds
December 8th 2016


12618 Comments


I see where you came from with it, as it linked your introduction together better. Maybe it could be re-worded each time.

AtomicWaste
Moderator
December 8th 2016


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's meant to be repeated for emphasis.

FullOfSounds
December 8th 2016


12618 Comments


I gotcha. Cheers man.

ashcrash9
December 8th 2016


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love the review, summed up my thoughts exactly. Embark, Embrace is in my top 5 albums of all time and it sucks to see these guys stop, but they bowed out respectfully with this. If (when) tracks 2-4 grow on me a little more, I'll probably raise this to a 4.5.

Long live this band.

Calc
December 8th 2016


15336 Comments


this was pretty twinkly and coool

Digging: Critic, The Cannibal - SPEAKS

davesthesay
December 9th 2016


36 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It sounds like a Foals record.

Faraudo
December 9th 2016


1368 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you, man. Just started to listen to this band/record for the first time, and i'm definitely liking what i'm hearing.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
December 9th 2016


2962 Comments


Nice one, dude! Will have to check this out before finalizing any year-end things, given that you are the critic, consumer, and conductor on this hype train CHOO CHOOOOO

AtomicWaste
Moderator
December 9th 2016


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hype train awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!



Glad to see so many people digging this one. I could maybe see this at a 4.5, but admittedly it grew from a 3.5 to a 4 on me after listening incessantly for weeks.

AsleepInTheBack
December 9th 2016


2921 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

first listen and it feels like a solid 3.5, super easy and enjoyable listen

hogan900
Contributing Reviewer
December 9th 2016


2294 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is cool, just like the artwork

sexpoi
December 9th 2016


632 Comments


how am I only now just finding out about this band? This record is beautiful. I can definitely see the similarities to And So I Watch You From Afar in some of the ways that they form riffs and structures.

Drummerboy123
December 9th 2016


2848 Comments


To all who dig this please listen to Waking Aida as well, you'd love them.

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 9th 2016


22800 Comments


dammit all to hell atomic

are you telling me I need to reconsider my top 25

Digging: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness - Zombies on Broadway

Sniff
December 9th 2016


3279 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Never finalize a top 25 before you listen to an Enemies offering. Looks like this is the final year that will be a problem tho. Also this is a great review

SteveOffProbation
December 9th 2016


844 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

what a bore

Sniff
December 10th 2016


3279 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Play Fire is beautiful in every possible way



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