The world doesn’t exactly wait for Jeremy Enigk anymore. Return of the Frog Queen was beautiful and brief, but that was 1996, and we’ve moved on. His next two releases with Sunny Day minus Hoerner (Rising Tide and then the Fire Theft’s self-titled) reminded everyone that wow, Diary and LP2 rocked; you don’t start calling someone the “grandfather of emo-core” if they’re still in the game. While Enigk would like you to think World Waits is the Frog Queen’s follow-up (see the orchestral first track), this album takes off exactly where the Fire Theft left off: beautifully blanding you to death.
It’s only natural for fans of early Sunny Day to hold the Enigk of today up to the Enigk of yesteryear, which is no doubt the biggest challenge the Enigk of 2006 faces. The lyrics of “Dare a Smile” spell this out: “dare a smile/ I’m out of style/ worry rested on my head…eyes gone red/ voice half dead/ worry of things I can’t control”. Determined, SDRE fans (myself included) have marched along with Enigk, happily consuming those nostalgic remnants of Diary: a gut-wrenching scream, a jagged guitar line, an ambiguous metaphor. It’s been ten years of this.
Enigk’s voice is remarkable, and it always has been; a truly unique and powerful tool at his disposal. But the songs on World Waits lock up his voice, confining his melodies to the smoothly polished structure outlined by the band. On “Damien Dreams” it slips loose, slamming into the polished song around it like a meteor. But oh how fleeting this is.
Enigk today is happy, confident, and ready to be understood; his songs relate this in an oversimplified manner. If Frog Queen was a complex discussion between anguish and elation, World Waits is a one-sided tale of contentment. Now that we can understand him perfectly, it seems that he doesn’t have nearly as much to say.
– Scott Roots