Nowadays, you can't turn on Leno or Conan without a weekly emotive dosage from some piano-playing, songwriting prodigy, and any self-respecting, twentysomething, khaki-wearing office manager owns several Radiohead, Coldplay and Sigur Ros CDs to prove his erudition to his after-work drinking buddies. So it was inevitable that this trend would find its way to Pittsburgh, and one of the best local examples is the extremely competent yet unfortunately named band Ennui.
Singer, musical mastermind and keyboard player Jim Doutrich certainly displays the kind of dreamy, soaring Coldplay voice that's so pervasive in this subgenre, yet the songs themselves don't really take any amazing, unpredictable twists and turns. Instead, it's a layered, carefully structured baroque pop, down to the very last laptop sample and reverb effect. But the well-written, immaculately produced tracks with their swells and ebbs have the kind of calculated appeal that perk up the ears not only of the typical Radiohead or Flaming Lips fan, but his girlfriend, too.
The album's opener, "Save," is a standout piano-rocker that begins with a gradual string flourish. And the closer, "Twelve," showcases the very personal side of Doutrich with just his voice, piano and some gentle synth washes (a more spacey Josh Groban, perhaps). But the killer tune here is definitely "Change," which has the Tori Amos-esque radio-friendly impact, and the orchestral-pop chorus that could land Ennui easily on a major feel-good movie soundtrack. Manny Theiner