Enuff Z’Nuff “Diamond Boy”

Enuff Z'Nuff
Their ability to take a melody and make it just dirty enough to be attractive is still intact. And Chip is still wearing those round, rose-tinted sunglasses, so all is well with the world
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It’s a turbulent time for Illinois’ favourite glam-metal princelings, Enuff Z’Nuff. You’d expect a few ups and downs in a career that started in the early eighties, but the band have recently parted company with long time singer Donnie Vie, which may have thrown the shadow of doubt over any future activity. These boys are pretty resilient and in an almost seamless transition, the only remaining founder member of the band, Chip Z’Nuff stepped up to the microphone and with new boys Tony Fenelle and Daniel B Hill filling in the blanks, they’ve recorded album fourteen with hardly a pause to reapply their eyeliner. Business as usual? Pretty much so.

Enuff Z’Nuff are the lovechild of “Magical Mystery Tour” era Beatles and “Rocks” era Aerosmith. That means you’ll get Mellotrons poking out from behind a wall of overdriven Les Pauls and tunes you can whistle while you bang your head. It’s a delicious, pop-metal hybrid. They’re also consistently good at it and why they’re not in Division One of the hard rock big boys is a mystery. “Diamond Boy” isn’t likely to change their rankings much and that’s a shame. It’s full to bursting with vocal and instrumental hooks and has enough sweetness for pop radio and enough crunch for specialist rock stations. They’re the rock band that powerpop fans can safely namecheck without fear of violent reprisals.

The album starts with the Beach Boys meet REO Speedwagon vocal workout of “Transcendance”. It’s a nice way to say “see – I told ya we could still sing!” and cuts nicely into the title track which ramps up the glam in a pretty appealing fashion. It’s a confident opening and if you can live with the eighties hair-metal guitar sound, you’re in for a treat. Elsewhere, it’s more good news – “Where Did You Go” has a chorus melody that you’ll be trying to get out of your head for days and a Paul McCartney middle eight. It’s also got a guitar progression that sounds like a “Nevermind” out-take. Something for everyone, eh?

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“We’re All The Same” sounds a lot like powerpop overlord Matthew Sweet jamming with Poison – this is a good thing, by the way and just when you’re ready for a nice lie down, along comes “Love is on the Line” – a power ballad that doesn’t completely suck. Neatly constructed with mellotrons rubbing shoulders with rock guitars, in a perfect world, it’d be Christmas number one until April. But it’s not a perfect world. A word to the wise, however – they may need a lawyer on hand to deal with the lawsuit that the Beatles’ publishing company will throw at them once they hear “Imaginary Man” which “borrows” quite heavily from “For No One”. See you in court, gentlemen.

Criticisms? Well, this won’t make diehard fans concerned about a new direction. It sounds pretty much like Enuff Z’Nuff, but with the guy that used to sing backing vocals now singing the lead. Generally, “Diamond Boy” rocks along on one level. It’s a high level, but no risks are taken and no new ground is broken, although a tip of the hat must go to “Faith, Hope and Luv” which could almost be funk-metal if it weren’t so damn catchy. Maybe Chip and the boys didn’t want to scare off their fanbase, who may already be nervous about the departure of a long-time member. And after all “Welcome to our new direction” are the five scariest words in rock and roll, aren’t they?

Rest assured, Enuff Z’Nuff fans, that the band have recovered with not a scratch from their recent altercations. “Diamond Boy” can sit alongside their best works and hold its head up high. Their ability to take a melody and make it just dirty enough to be attractive is still intact. And Chip is still wearing those round, rose-tinted sunglasses, so all is well with the world.