It’s been 40 years since their debut album, and progressive rock group The Enid still manage to surprise us. Whilst Dust still retains the band’s iconic classical sound, the final piece of the Journey’s End trilogy sees The Enid veiled in their most poppy and accessible of guises yet.
Despite the morbid refrain “Love’s an illusion / We’re all just dust” being hammered into us from the very start, there’s an undeniable flamboyance and optimistic energy in Dust that’s unparalleled by the rest of The Enid’s discography. The jaunty, bouncy ‘Born in the Fire’; the Broadway-esque rock anthem ‘Trophy’ and the funky ‘Heavy Hearts’ notably are infectiously joyful and catchy – a rarity when it comes to The Enid’s previous complexities.
This vibrancy and how Dust juts out from its sibling albums is primarily down to vocalist Joe Payne, who’s taken a bigger role in songwriting due to the deteriorating health of founding member Robert John Godfrey – who also recently announced his retirement from touring. It certainly feels that Dust is Payne’s album – there’s not a single instrumental track and the songs seem as if they’re written around Payne’s cooing vocal inflections, with instrumental focus taking a back seat for once. Songs like ‘Someone Will Rise For Us’ and ‘Monsters’ have a very stripped back approach in structure, where there’s relatively little progression and unfortunately makes these the weaker tracks on the album despite Payne’s excellent vocal performance.
Dust is an album where The Enid don’t take themselves too seriously – the pseudo-rap in ‘Trophy’s chorus, the raunchy lines found in ‘1000 Stars’; (“Get down on your knees / So I can give you what you need”) and the album’s general over-exuberance show that The Enid aren’t all work and no play. It’s certainly reflected in their live performances of the album, too, where they appeared to have more fun on this tour than any other recently – especially in the explosive, *ahem*, climax to ‘1000 Stars’. However there are still moments of reverence found in Dust that remind us that they haven’t lost all seriousness in songwriting – the elegant ‘When The World is Full’ echoes the delicateness found in Invicta alongside frequent nods back to the rest of the trilogy, most notably the beautiful intro to ‘Heavy Hearts’.
For those who couldn’t get enough of Payne in Invicta, Dust is a fantastic album to showcase these expressive vocals and is the most flamboyant and unique addition to The Enid‘s arsenal yet. Whilst it doesn’t utilize The Enid‘s full potential in terms of arrangements, Dust is still an excellent album with a pleasantly surprising musical feel, showing that the band are ever evolving their sound – though I wouldn’t have minded an Invicta II.
Post originally published on the Prog Talk FB page on 11/04/2016 by ~Cerpin Taxt.