And maybe you already heard some babble about the new album being not
as good as the first. Don't listen to them. The new album is different.
If the first album was Hall & Oates meets Nik Kershaw, this one is
more like The Cure meet Hipsway, the Faint, Sigur Ros and Cocteau Twins.
Are you starting to get the picture? It's dark. It's melancholic.
It's sad and beautiful. You will most probably hear "Grey Day" first,
since it seems to be the new single - it's the track that sounds the
most like the old Zoot Woman, but with a melancholy that's like a footpress
on the brakes. It won't take off like the old songs. You will come to think
they have become weaker.
Wrong approach. Restart the CD from behind. Listen to it back to front.
A Glass "Half Full Of Happiness" is supposed to mean positivity. Hall
full as opposed to being half empty. Here it's more like desperately
trying to see things half full when they are actually half empty.
An electric bass that sounds like the Cure 1978. Guitar chords and a kick drum.
Just Johnny's vocals still sound like Zoot Woman.
The guitar is played backwards.
A warm-hearted sad bridge. It's like the whole record is going backwards.
Noises of vinyl. Metropolitan retrosadness. 70s synthesizers. Like
Tangerine Dream 1978. Or Space. And then the song ends too soon, as if we
were waiting for the big surprise. But Zoot Woman are not in the mood for
surprises. Not this time around.
Track number nine, "Maybe Say." Cellos. Strings. Maybe Stuart shouldn't
have worked for Madonna. He's been touring with her on the Drowned Tour.
Maybe it drowned him a bit. Or where does this sadness come from?
Minor chords. Minor moods. Before I think of the song it already melts away.
I've got a feeling, it's sad.
"Useless Anyway" is my favourite. I love diminished chords. "Nothing left to
say." Now if you weren't sure if this album is desperate, this song is. And
it is brilliant. Dramatically combined, the Cure chords with the Zoot Woman
technique of having the electric bass and the acoustic drums play strictly
to the beat of the computer. It's all re-engineered to utter perfection.
The bass note starts in sync with the kick drum and ends in sync with
the snare drum. Guitars as well. Back then in the 80s it was the aim of
good production to sound that way, but they had to play it like that live.
These days Stuart can produce the sound of the 80s as it was originally
intended, more perfect than the originals. This song reminds me of
something in the 80s, but I can't tell you what. When I find it I will
realize it's only half as beautiful as this. This song isn't useless at all.
But I wished it was longer and had one more bridge or chorus.
The whole album actually is lacking some obvious choruses and sing-along
hooklines. It was not in the mood of the Zoot I assume. The first album
was meant to hit your vocal chords, this one slowly creeps into your heart.
"Calmer" is a trip hop track. Yes, you heard what I said. It's like the
boys who've been spending so much time being ahead of time felt like
picking up something they left behind. Instrumental trip hop.
The kind that still finds appreciation in intellectual lounges.
This is so eighties says the young lady next to me, "Woman Wonder"
features an upfront synthesizer line in a way hardly anyone ever did
in the 80s. She's too young to know. I like how younger ones perceive
this. And as the song develops it does get 80s. The production, so
complex and fat and multilayered. Another strong song, but somehow short.
Stop the press, what is this? Country music! A banjo strumming on a
shuffled mood. But as soon as Johnny starts singing, the Zoot feel
is there. "Snow White." Another interesting track.
Ha! Here comes a rocker. Classic Zoot Woman style. Bass line and drums
in 4, melodic vocals on top. Nothing more. And then suddenly synth
chords come in, just like in a club music production. A song you could
expect from Black Strobe or Miss Kittin. And then a breakdown, a bridge
featuring a touch of guitar. Just a touch, the club strength is back.
This is a club track, it just needs some remixing. "Hope In The Mirror."
Melancholy with a touch of hope, for a change. Over too soon.
"Gem" features melodies on the bass line, again in a very curesque
fashion. Dance pop beat, Zoot Woman style, and yet the track is
resting on a bed of introversion. Good. Could use a chorus.
Something that gives us hope. No, it stays as it is, and ends early.
They're not doing music for us. It's for them.
But the most amusing track comes last. At least for me. I mean, it's
like a joke. After all the sadness comes "Taken It All" featuring
blatant deep house happiness on top of a shuffle beat.
Shuffle beats are in vogue, but so far electro people have been
using them, like Goldfrapp, das Bierbeben or Covenant. The Zoots decide
to combine the new beat with the established feel of house music, which
is something only International Pony have been doing, and you probably
haven't even heard of them, unless you're german.
If the Londoner house scene can take
the joke of getting shuffled around, this is their late summer
dancefloor hit. Excellent. But please also go buy International Pony.