ENIAC – All That’s Left of Us

All That’s Left of Us

If FOX came out with a new show called When Emo Attacks, ENIAC would be the star. Oh, it’s bad. And I’m not even one of those universal emo-haters. I can swallow the occasional dose of Dashboard Confessional or Jimmy Eat World, but ENIAC? That’s too much.

The problem is that All That’s Left of Us, the band’s farewell album, is so very generic. There’s just nothing new or interesting or original going on, and again, I don’t need a record to re-invent the rules of popular music for me like it. Coldplay proved that well-intentioned consistency could sell a ton of albums; ENIAC proves that Coldplay was fucking lucky.

Let me break it down for you. Step one: the music. It’s all the same. Aside from an occasional change in tempo (track four is a slowed-down ballad, track five is an upbeat rocker, etc.), the instrumentation never changes. Cheesy, m.o.r. guitars are layered beneath a whiny, faux-angsty voice that reminds me of Brandon Boyd without the edge or Ben Fold without the sarcasm. When a piano comes in for the first time on “In Separate Rooms” (track eight!), any welcome refreshment the listener may feel is diluted by god-awful, diary-entry lyrics, which brings me to step two: the words. ENIAC thinks it’s cool to take a phrase and then immediately state its opposite, such as “I’m the problem, you’re the answer” or “Is this a stopping point or just the point where we start asking questions?” (italics mine). Ironically, both of these lines are from the song “No Responsibility,” which is a good descriptor for how ENIAC’s members have decided to treat the English language.

I hate being mean, though. I really do. That’s why I’m happy to announce that “Lucky” — the ambitious, nine-minute final track on All That’s Left — does offer some redemption from the album’s usual pain. Still, the fact that ENIAC called it quits in 2003 after four years together shouldn’t really come as a big surprise.