Saturday, November 29, 2008

Zoos Of Berlin -- Zoos Of Berlin

Zoos Of Berlin -- Zoos Of Berlin (self-released)

This three song teaser from this Detroit quintet shows that the Zoos not only share a band member with Pas/Cal, they share a sensibility. This is fey pop with a flourish.

Indeed, the classically inspired keyboard part that ornaments “Below the Old House” sounds like it could have been used on a Yes record. Instead, it serves as an instrumental hook on an unfolding song that uses dynamics well and has a real sense of drama.

Another weighty keyboard line from Will Yates gets “Speak Well of Manderlay”, with the band building up to a crescendo, with hard beating drums and vigorously strummed guitars contrasting with the floating melody. Where Pas/Cal evinces a strong Kinks vibe, the Zoos sound to me like a band that is a bit more in step with some of the ‘70s art-poppers like 10CC, Sparks and Genesis. I suppose part of it is the grandeur that suffuses all three of these tunes. Which is not to be mistaken for pomp or prog, heaven forbid.

The last track, “On Large Amusement”, is haunting and atmospheric, showing off a totally different side of the band. The downcast guitars still have that grandeur I mentioned earlier. Although this is a pithy number is has a real emotional weight to it, just by the sweep of the guitar and piano chords.

From a musical standpoint, this rates highly. I can only see the band sharpening its approach, and the songwriting is ambitious but accessible. Where I'd like to see the band pick it up a bit is in the lyric department. The lyrics don't quite connect at times, either coming off as too obscure or lacking in the memorable phrase department. To put it another way, the words are okay, but the music is very good, so I'd like to see the words move up to equal the tuneage. Because that would be quite something.

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