The long haitus finally over, Engler kicks off It's a Wonderful Life in top form with the short, atmospheric intro, "Honesty;" a slow, silky-smooth piece that veritably drips with laid back cool. "New Start" continues the winning vibe with a cool, funk-filled number that accentuates the dance portion of the dance-meets-pop textures that propelled Control to its rightfully lofty position. As it turns out, these first two cuts work as a sort of microcosm of the EP as a whole, which, for the most part, fills in the remainder of its run time with roughly equal portions of the soft, ethereal tones of songs like "Fix Ourselves" and the breezy, rhythm-heavy groove of the best-of-album title track.
While many a reviewer has lamented over the shorter run time of the average extended-play release, the already-brief Life, ironically enough, would have benefitted from a bit of further judicious trimming. The effortless, care-free charm of "Philosophy," though engaging to a point, isn't sufficient to mask its underlying repetitiveness. The copious vocal and instrumental pitch dives inserted at the back end of "New Start" inevitably begin to grate after a point. Lines like "Heaven knows we've been through some hell" (from "The Rest of Our Lives") will likely strike more than a few listeners as either questionable or gratuitous. And the whined, off-kilter vocal effects of "Ode" seem destined to relegate the half-minute cut to single-play status for some of the staunchest members of the existing fan base.
Of course, Engler certainly deserves credit for his willingness to venture out beyond the safe confines of his Abandon-based work and try something different. And, as mentioned above, with one or two compositions excised from the running order, the remaining tracks truncated to a more manageable length and the lion's share of the sonic effects reined in, the project would have been one of the more solid dance-based efforts to hit the virtual shelves in recent months. While Engler's first foray into the solo arena falls well short of that lofty goal, the flawed, but encouraging, EP features just enough top-drawer material to convince most of those who hear it that something truly impressive lies just around the corner.- Review date: 3/22/19, written by Bert Gangl of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: None
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