To be completely honest, I had no greater expectations for this album to begin with. Why? Well, I loved Enuff Z’Nuff back in the 80’s and a bit into the 90’s and even though I don’t think that they have ever released one bad album per se, their albums released in the new millennium has left a lot to be desired. Not bad, just forgettable and a bit uninteresting. The last album they released was called Clowns Lounge in 2016 and contained a bunch of unreleased tracks and demos – and original singer and rhythm guitarist Donnie Vie had left the band, leaving bass player Chip Z’Nuff holding the place as the sole original member of the band – and the new lead singer. The truth is, without Donnie in the band, Enuff Z’Nuff feels more like Chip Z’Nuff’s solo project – which I guess it is in many ways. Clowns Lounge was ok but the truth is, I haven’t felt any desire to spin it since I reviewed it.
That said, one must give it to Chip for never quitting – Enuff Z’Nuff are most likely his baby and as long as he’s breathing the band will go on, I guess. Still, that means that his band that consists of, to me, unknown musicians and again, to me, they’re all somewhat anonymous – which doesn’t mean they’re bad because they’re not – quite the contrary. Even visually, they are – just look at the picture above. Whatever one might think, Chip and his cohorts – guitarists Tory Stoffregen and Danny Fennell and drummer Dan Hill – have managed to bring out new original music for us to digest, the first time for Hill and Fennell (Stoffregen had a stint in the band between 2008-2014 before he rejoined in 2016 and played on Dissonance (2010)) and for their sake, I hope that Enuff Z’Nuff will bring us an album that will shut the mouth of all doubters out there.
The album opens with the intro “Transcendence” and it’s just an intro, no more, no less. It doesn’t bring that much to the table and could might as well have been a part of the real opening track, the title track. A title track that starts out with a punky vibe, like The Ramones gone Glam in the EZ-style. The tune transfers into a more Beatles meets Cheap Trick with trippy undertones while keeping some of the pop-punk vibes. It’s a straight-forward and catchy with lots of harmonies. And yes, Chip does a fine job as a singer, trying his best to make Donnie Vie justice. Good song indeed. The following “Where Did We Go” is both heavy and punchy and contains a guitar riff obviously nodding towards Metal. But fear not, the somewhat spacey melodies have all the EZ-ingredients you need. Another really good tune and I’m thinking that really bodes well for the rest of the album.
“We’re All The Same” takes us on Power Pop route and Cheap Trick is all over this song but with a more tripped-out Arena Rock vibe and while it’s guitar oriented and holds a fine chug, the chorus is also very Pop and the chorus is catchier than all the STD’s the band caught in their hey-day. This is awesome and clearly single material – big hit-potential. The mid-paced “Fire And Ice” brings on a late 1960’s groove with all the melodies and arrangements EZ are known for when they bring on a mix of Melodic Rock and Stadium dito. It holds a refrain that I have to fight to get out of my head if I wanted it to. I don’t. Because it’s a great refrain and a great song. “Down On Luck” is a mid-paced pop-rocker, quite heavy and dark albeit in a Pop kind of way. Beatles, Cheap Trick and Jellyfish are bands I hear in this tune – with a good dose of classic Hard Rock and a classic EZ-melody on top. Good tune.
“Metalheart” is without a doubt the heaviest tune on the album – heavier than most stuff they have done throughout their career, to be frank. It’s a hard, rough, punchy and kicking tune that holds a stompy rhythm and the song is really in-your-face. But since Chip Z’Nuff is involved, the late 60’s influenced melodies are never far away and this song is no exception. It’s not the strongest tune in the world, however and even though I feel that all Rock albums needs something heavy, this tune is only ok in my book. “Love Is On The Line” is a slow, Beatles-eque Pop-rock tune that has one foot in power balladry, the way it sounded back in the late 80’s/early 90’s. But EZ always wrote power ballads in their own way and where there’s a Rock guitar, there’s also a Mellotron so their ballads were not to be confused with a Poison or Pretty Boy Floyd dito. I think it’s a great and catchy little number.
“Faith, Hope & Luv” is an uptempo Hard Rock tune, Arena Rock late 80’s style. It’s groove-laden with Chip’s funky bass in focus. It’s a pure Hard Rock tune, quite rough and raunchy but no one can miss that this is Enuff Z’Nuff – the melody-style gives that away right away. Very good. “Dopesick” comes in a mid-tempo and this slick and melodic pop-rocker screams Cheap Trick – hell, they even use the words “cheap trick” in the lyrics. That said, Beatles are never far away either which makes this pretty much a classic sounding EZ-song. It’s a trippy, spaced-out and dark number but also very catchy and could easily be a left-over from the bands earlier albums. They close the record with the piano ballad “Imaginary Man”, a song that’s a total Beatles rip-off. If Paul McCartney sends his lawyers Chip’s way and says “For No One” – a song from Beatles 1966 Revolver album – Chip might be in trouble. Still, I can’t help but to like it as the refrain is tattooed to my brain.
Diamond Boy is a surprise. A big surprise. Because I honestly didn’t think they had it in them to make a damn good record anymore – and this album is if not brilliant then at least a really good record. In fact, I hold it as their best since 10 from 2000. I admit I wasn’t convinced after only one listen but it has grown on me a lot. So what have Chip n’ the boys done right this time then? Well, for starters they have managed to write some really good, classic EZ-sounding songs that really sticks. And speaking of classic, everything about this record sounds like EZ from back when they were fab (sic!). I mean, even Chip’s voice sounds so alike Donnie Vie’s it’s eerie – and Vie’s voice was a pivotal part of EZ’s sound. But not just his voice, the arrangements and melodies are total EZ where Beatles, Jellyfish and Beatles meets up with Glam and Stadium Rock. So while this might not be a new Strength (1991) it still holds up very well by their standards and in 2018’s musical climate. There’s still life in the band – such as shame Donnie Vie couldn’t be part of this.
More Enuff Z’Nuff reviews:
2. Diamond Boy
3. Where Did You Go
4. We’re All The Same
5. Fire And Ice
6. Down On Luck
8. Love Is On The Line
9. Faith, Hope & Luv
11. Imaginary Man