The considerable excitement spurred by the formation of Canadian supergroup Swan Lake seemed to dampen once their 2006 record, Beast Moans, actually made it to stereos. Perhaps folks expected Dan Bejar (Destroyer, Hello Blue Roses, New Pornographers), Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown), and Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes, Blackout Beach) three of the most inscrutable songwriters of their generation, to chill out, fire up the grill, and lay down some three-minute power-pop songs. Though that record is rich upon revisit, littered with entrancing tangents and grand Biblical allusion, it’s also a messy, heaving thing that occasionally buries the talents of its makers under myriad cacophonous layers. With seven(!) other bands spread between its members, the discovery of Quantum Scheduling would have seemed necessary to lift Swan Lake from famous friends’ hobby to something resembling a cohesive band. Stockholm, ready the Nobel. The shorter, neater Enemy Mine displays an admirable investment from these three idiosyncratic musicians to forge a unified creative voice.
Though their individual records come from differing obtuse angles, the similar approaches of Bejar, Krug and Mercer foretold a more seamless merging all along. Their increasingly self-referential personal visions consist of carefully spouted nonsense and instrumental noodling ranging from sinister to serene. Now that they’re fulfilling their shared intent together, the primary joy in Enemy Mine is in how the boys find room to cohabit each others’ styles. It’s a kick to hear Bejar’s bleary fop singing and Mercer’s deranged man-boy yelps lending emphasis to “Paper Lace,” an otherwise delicate Sunset Rubdown-ish ballad. Spencer’s melodic scatting grounds Carey’s wildness on “Spanish Gold, 2044,” completing the circle of bromance. As is true of most any album he appears on, Dan has the best line. “Heartswarm”’s amusingly bitter, “Do my eyes deceive me, or is it Springtime in Paris for that piece of shit?” needs no backing oomph. The tracks in which Bejar is most prominent tend to be Enemy Mine’s best, though individual authorship is now tougher to discern. It’s a banner day for any friendship when you can no longer tell whose neuroses are whose.