Thought I'd start this as a companion thread to our topic about "Scathing UK reviews".

Split Enz, conversely, is a band not to watch - or hear either.

"It is music and mirth from the enz of the Earth” is how they describe "Mental Notes" (Chrysalis CHR 1131); "junk" would be just as accurate and less verbose. Musically, it’s arty-arty, look how progressively decadent we are in our goofy makeup, clown suits, and outlandish hairdos, a cloddish Genesis, a muddled Queen.

There's nothing approaching a strong singer, so the words (which aren’t printed) are lost in the clutter of every sound they can think to dump in. Some people can play though, notably sax-man Robert Gillies and pianist Edward Rayner.

This New Zealand septet seems so engrossed in parodying whatever it is they're parodying they lose all traces of their subject and wind up parodying only themselves. "Mental Notes" is one to leave in the store.

Pete Bishop
The Pittsburgh Press, 13 February 1977

"Was anyone really waiting for the Split Enz box?" -- Rolling Stone

Original Post

Same critic was still in a bad mood when True Colours was released.

The first time American ears were "treated" to the sounds of New Zealand's Split Enz was five [sic] years ago on an atrocious arty album called "Mental Notes".

Well, changes in both personnel and aims have been made... But change is not necessarily progress. The lyrics are poor and repetitious, singer Tim Finn is thin-voiced, and if his younger brother Neil is playing guitar anywhere, you have to listen mighty hard to hear it. There are a few acceptable spots ... "True Colours" isn't the junk Split Enz cranked out a few years ago, but there's still a long way to go.

Pete Bishop
Pittsburgh Press, 12 October 1980

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