Jeremy Enigk - Return of the Frog Queen - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Jeremy Enigk - Return of the Frog Queen

by James Weiskittel Rating:9 Release Date:2018-05-25
Jeremy Enigk - Return of the Frog Queen
Jeremy Enigk - Return of the Frog Queen

While largely credited as a key forbearer to the Emo genre, Sunny Day Real Estate is a great example of a highly influential band that failed to reap the rewards of their trailblazing efforts.  While the Seattle band managed to record four proper albums over the course of two separate stints in the 90’s, (albums that are treasured by both fans and artists alike), they ultimately failed to gather any serious commercial traction before ultimately splitting up for the second time at the end of the decade.

And while some of the band’s members would go onto bigger and better things (most notably bassist Nate Mendel, who would acquire stadium-star status with the Foo Fighters), the band’s heart and soul, singer Jeremy Enigk, would use the hiatus to record his solo debut, Return of the Frog Queen.  Long out-of-print, Return of the Frog Queen is getting the revisited/remastered treatment via Sub Pop. In addition to the album’s original nine tracks, five additional live tracks taken from a 1996 radio-show are being tossed in for good measure.

Return of the Frog Queen was, at the time, a stark departure from the guitar-driven, emo-inspiring alt-rock that Sunny Day Real Estate had established with their first two releases. Heart-on-your-sleeve, guitar-driven anthems are replaced with more thoughtful, pensive moments.

Be it the slow-build dynamics of the album-opening “Abegail Anne”, the subtle swing of the title track, or the understated balladry of tracks like “Lizard” and “Call Me Steam”, Return of the Frog Queen revealed an artist reveling in the freedom of working outside the context of a band.  The album’s blissfully cinematic climax comes by way of the piano-driven “Shade and the Black Hat” and the album-closing “Fallen Heart”, a pair of songs that effectively cemented Enigk’s status as one of the generation’s most dynamic songwriters.

The remastering applies a modern magnifying glass to what was an appropriately understated recording.  While the whole process of remastering tends to be a divisive topic for fans, with the subjective nature of ‘what sounds best’ often leading to differing opinions, in this writer’s opinion, Return of the Frog Queen benefits (for the most part) from new treatment.  The live tracks, while hardly essential, are a nice addition to this otherwise brief collection (the album clocks in at just under a half-hour).

For fans of Enigk’s solo work, this reissue is a no-brainer.  For fans of Sunny Day Real Estate that have never checked out Enigk’s solo work, this is the perfect place to start.  And for anyone else who is unfamiliar, Return of the Frog Queen is best described as one of the true alt-rock gems of the 90's; a sonic testament to the genius of one of the genre’s most overlooked voices.


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Thanks, James, I would rate this one as one of the best during that decade.

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