Arriving just over a year after the excellent High Society, Hocus Pocus is Enon's attempt to sum up where it has been on its previous albums and strike out in new directions at the same time. These contradictory impulses result in an album that's a musical tug-of-war: while many of Hocus Pocus' tracks sound like pleasant but not especially distinctive reworks of High Society songs, there are almost as many that suggest Enon is moving in some intriguing new directions. While there's nothing inherently wrong with "Spanish Boots"' good-natured indie rock or "Shave"'s atmospheric, Asian-influenced new wave, it tends to sound like slight variations on High Society's "Window Display" and the band's breakout hit "In This City," respectively. Unfortunately, this problem plagues a good portion of the album: songs like the pretty but vague "Monsoon" and the meandering "Storm the Gates" sound underdeveloped, like outtakes from High Society with all of that album's tension and weirdness removed. Hocus Pocus also suffers from some strange sequencing: most of its quieter numbers are placed near the beginning of the album and the louder tracks are dumped anticlimactically near the end. Compounding the problem is the album's somewhat subdued production, which gives an overly detached feeling to potentially powerful tracks like "Litter in the Glitter." Still, Hocus Pocus' best songs make it a difficult album to dismiss entirely; and, as with the previous album, Toko Yasuda's bright, fresh-sounding vocals are at least partly responsible for some of its most distinctive moments. "Daughter in the House of Fools" is one of Enon's best songs to date, with junkyard percussion and flitting electronics providing a bouncy, playful showcase for Yasuda's vocals. Likewise, "Mika Zuki" is equal parts beauty and whimsy, a mix of traditional Japanese music, electronica, and a bit of exotica. They're different than anything Enon has tried before, suggesting a new realm of possibilities for the band. Other Hocus Pocus tracks offer more subtle innovations: the swooningly romantic new wave duet "Candy" and the title track wander into love song territory, while the sleek, creepy "Murder Sounds" reveals a newfound flair for the dramatic. Meanwhile, songs like "The Power of Yawning" and "Starcastic" bookend the album with the immediacy and bite that is largely missing from the rest of the album. As promising as it is inconsistent, Hocus Pocus may not be Enon's strongest album, but it's still a fairly interesting one.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares