Better known as the principal singer/songwriter for (the now disbanded) Sunny Day Real Estate, Jeremy Enigk (pronounced ee-nihk) arrives here with his debut solo work, Return of the Frog Queen. This return precipitates a near-audible sigh of relief from Sunny Day fans as they feared the worst after the break-up of the band. The SDRE rhythm section have since gone on to national prominence as Foo Fighters, but the question remained what was up with Jeremy? Jeremy’s spiritual re-awakening was the stuff of legend thanks to his self-penned, and subsequently oft-posted, email testimonial. Now, almost 2 years later, Jeremy follows that testimonial with Return of the Frog Queen, and a more auspicious affirmation of musical intent one could not hope to ask for.
Sunny Day Real Estate, for those of you just returned from Peace Corps posts, were the dynamic quartet out of Seattle that gave voice to passionate misfits across the nation, from Curtis Pitts to John Stewart. Formed in 1992, SDRE’s three year tenure earned them unprecedented critical and commercial success. This success was all the more remarkable considering their iconoclastic no press kit-no interviews (no shows in California) policy. Said policy inspired that much more attention be paid to their musical performances. That heightened state of anticipation and attention greeted Jeremy’s infamous email post. In the message, Jeremy offered up intimate details of his personal transformations at large; in the band, and most importantly for him, as a Christian.
The passion with which fans pored over the note mirrored the way they hung on every musical note. Jeremy’s ability to keep listeners’ rapt attention, literally, from a whisper to a scream led many to dub his voice as that voice. Jeremy began honing that voice at the tender age of thirteen in his first band. Frustrated with his attempts to communicate his musical vision to his peers he adopted the guitar as his instrumental tool. Since then he has taught himself keyboards, percussion, and all sorts of stringed instruments. On Return of the Frog Queen he utilizes his harping to great effect, not to mention having acquired a Cello and four days later recording it for the album (for the record, he deferred his chops to the trained professionals).
The year is now 1996, and Jeremy Enigk releases Return of the Frog Queen on an unsuspecting world. Exposing the psychedelic underbelly of modern emo-core, Jeremy draws on the seemingly disparate elements of punk and classical musics. ‘Emo-core’, for the uninitiated, is the passionately emotional offspring of 80s hardcore, both Fugazi and SDRE being sometime exemplars of the form. Hence, the ‘punk’ pedigree (especially in light of Jeremy’s self-taught musicianship). The ‘classical’ part is in both the orchestral nature of the work and the compositional aspects of ‘classic rock’; imagine a cross of Nick Drake and John Lennon immaculately produced by George Martin, augmented by a 21-piece orchestra.
Return of the Frog Queen is the stunning result of a year’s worth of effort; and it is certain to live up to fans of Jeremy’s previous work with Sunny Day Real Estate. It is also poised to cross over to heretofore undreamed audiences. By extrapolating the passion and graceful bombast of his previous band and delicately draping it in acoustic and orchestral textures Jeremy has created a work of astounding and enduring beauty.