Enuff Z'nuff

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Dissonance Review

by Eduardo Rivadavia

As harmonious as their Beatlesque, psychedelic power pop albums have been over the years, Enuff Z'Nuff's career could easily be described with a single word bearing a very contradictory meaning: "dissonance." And Dissonance is indeed the well-chosen title of the star-crossed Chicago natives' twelfth studio album, following a decade of hit-and-miss releases, breakups, makeups, and shakeups, amid some truly traumatizing events like the fatal drug overdose suffered by original guitarist Derek Frigo and the passing of long-serving drummer Ricky Parent from cancer. However, these personal tragedies didn't impact the new songs composed by reunited bandleaders Donnie Vie and Chip Z'Nuff in any evident way when, in fact, the tunes once again drink from the same heartwarmingly familiar, yet inexhaustibly bubbling spring that's served the band so well for over two decades. Yes, we're speaking of the aforementioned Beatles influence by way of Cheap Trick, which not surprisingly permeates everything in sight, and tempers every paradoxical emotional high and low with bittersweet counterpoint to varying degrees of perfection. Just as the title track's ominous descending melody eventually makes way for a few rays of sunshine to peek through, the imminently joyous "Lazy Dazy" is only held back from a Jellyfish-sized sweetness by the wounded rasp in Vie's voice. And while everything about "Altered States" except its lyrics sounds like an acoustic guitar picnic strum-a-thon, "Chicago" finds the band wallowing in despair like never before. The muscular hard rocker "High" promises to go down as another Enuff Z'Nuff fan favorite, and along with its somewhat less forceful but equally memorable follow-up "Fine Line," showcases the very positive contributions of former Ozzy Osbourne and Badlands guitarist Jake E. Lee to Dissonance. Just another reason why this feels like Enuff Z'Nuff's truest album in a decade mired in questionable choices and understandable trauma. Here's hoping better times and more great music are ahead. [Released in Japan in April 2009, Dissonance was finally given a world-wide release one year later by Britain's Rock Candy label.]