Ever since the formation of The Beatles back in the day, the British music scene has never been able to keep one identity. It seems that every decade or so, Britain finds a new sort of music to rock to. In the 60’s, the “in” music was Rock and Roll and Psychedelia. In the 70’s, Progressive Rock found itself in the spotlight of the British scene. The 80’s called for a big change in pace, with the Metal, Techno, Alternative and Punk parties being the frontrunners in the rat race for the top of the Britannia music charts. And finally, the 90’s ushered in Britpop, a fusion of the alternative styles Britain grew to be so fond of in the decades past. Than back a few years ago, in the baby years of the 21st Century, there was a huge revival in English music of yesteryear. You see, these bands came out of nowhere, started to stylize bands nearly 40 years old, and the next thing you know, it leads to an immense revival, which continues to this very moment. Erratic, it may seem, but this sudden resurfacing has taken the British music scene by storm yet again, leading to yet another identity change.
An example, you ask to fit this puzzle? Take Liverpool’s very own alt/pop band The Zutons. Sure, they may be classified as an alternative rock band, but they sure rub off as a late 60’s/early 70’s wanna be group. Debuting in 2004 with “Who Killed.....The Zutons?”, the album was soon dubbed as one of those British pop debut albums that is “groundbreaking”. The Zutons won numerous awards for the album, and soon became favorites of the paparazzi and media alike. While this may be a critically acclaimed album, do not be deceived, for “Who Killed…..The Zutons?” is not the best showing it is thought as. Though catchy it may be to some extent, the road that “Who Killed…..The Zutons?” seemingly lures us down is full of bumpy twists and turns, proving disastrous in the end for The Zutons debut effort.
The Zutons are-
David McCabe- Vocals, Guitar
Boyan Chowdhury- Vocals, Lead Guitar
Russell Pritchard- Vocals, Bass
Abi Harding- Vocals, Saxophone
After giving this album a full fledged listen, one may be able to come to one of two conclusions. 1.) That The Zutons are out of their time period. 2.) They have the 60’s/70’s Rock/Progressive/Psychedelic groove down. After listening to this a full time thru, I myself have overlapped both of these statements into my conclusion of the Zutons debut album. While it isn’t very bold for one to say that they are out of their time period, they did cite their influences wisely. While they could be simple rip offs of mediocre bands such as Yes, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Moody Blues, etc, etc, you can tell the work of The Beatles, XTC, even Quincy Jones and Sly and The Family Stone has rolled into the recording studios of the Zutons. The albums opening track, Zuton Fever instantly sounds like something sucked straight out of a scene of Austin Powers, revealing The Zutons seemingly peculiar connection to Quincy Jones. The serving of Sly and The Family Stone seems to get shoved down your throat in the form of You Will You Won’t, one of the five singles taken off of “Who Killed…..” On Pressure Point, you may be able to make a minimal connection to The Beatles and XTC, though it sounds like a more deranged mix of Led Zeppelin, Queen, and The Scissor Sisters.
One of the biggest influences that has rubbed off on The Zutons bares the same young British blood that flows through the veins that The Zutons possess, that being, Oasis. Some could even argue that they ripoff of Oasis here and there. Yes, it may be difficult to find the similarities between Oasis and The Zutons, but when you least think about the connection between the two, it’s there, standing right in front of your face. Take Long Time Coming. It’s almost suitable to say there is a stamp on the song that says “Oasis ripoff tune, right here.” It all makes perfect sense, from the instrumentation that builds the tension into the chorus where everything thing suddenly flows out of the instruments, to the savage vocals. Though attempting to match up the vocals of McCabe and Gallagher will usually lead to an array of confusion and debacle, Long Time Coming is not the case. Though McCabe’s vocals sound less polished than Gallagher’s, McCabe’s vocals ignite a heavy fuse that makes him mimic the style Gallagher portrays throughout most of his songs.
And while the influences may be so blatant in the music that these so called Zutons create, they do specialize in a different procedure that most other bands do not usually resort to unless they are bizarre enough. Every song on “Who Killed….” has a different sound, a different feel, and a different atmosphere. Every single song.
You’ll see this transition so much that it will give you barely anytime to take a breath, more so leading to the misinterpretation of many a song. Take the last three songs on the album, for instance, Dirty Dancehall, Moons and Horror Shows, and Don’t Even Think (Too Much). Dancehall is a surreal blend of jazz and a downbeat Oasis tune. An oddity it may be, but people who listen will be surprised of how it comes off, nicely. (Excepting the end, the screaming is unnecessary) Moons and Horror Shows could come off as a weird title, leading to a freaky song, but what it really is is a semi-raunchy country tune, full of plodded guitar riffs, and vocals that could use some better clarity all around. On to the final song on “Who Killed…….”, Don’t Even Think (Too Much), a simple song that renews the whole 60’s/70’s Bru-Ha-Ha. Once you get past the horrible showing on vocals and you discover the simple instrumentation that really sways the momentum of the song, you’ll see that The Zutons debut album ends on a swift but strong note.
And, though it seems you could just give up on this album in the first few paragraphs you’ve read of this review, do not be that foolhardy. This album sure does contain a few worthwhile tracks, no? Of course it does. Pressure Point could be deemed a feasible contender for the best song on “Who Killed…….” The vocals are bearable for once. The instrumentation is a bit on the light side, but comes out of the shadows here and there for a strong showing and what have you. Second on this ever so sparse list, Nightmare, Part II. The saxophone might be the hook on this tune, leading the way for the rest of the instruments. What word am I looking for here to fit the vocals? Cliché
, that’s all there is to say about the vocals, plain and simple. Though there are a few other songs that bare the characteristics worthy of getting a mention on this here list, these are the only songs that will really push your buttons, that is, in a good way.
So, who do these Zutons think they are, releasing an album so meek but misunderstood, that causes a wonderful catastrophe concerning the media? Sure, the album may be regarded as one of the finest debuts from a band in the early 21st Century, but it is sure a hard album to swallow in one listening. The query that some of you may be raising here, Is this album really worth it? Of course it is, once you give it time to sink through the flesh. It’s all about time with the Zutons debut, “Who Killed……The Zutons?” Be that as it may take time for many to fully understand the various workings of the Zutons, the cd becomes that more enjoyable once you give it a few worthy sit-downs. As for myself, it has taken awhile to sink in, and it still hasn’t fully been transmitted into my music memory bank, that is why this album stands as a 3 out of 5. In time, the dust will clear for “Who Killed…….The Zutons?”. But for the time being…………..
Nightmare Part II
Don’t Even Think (Too Much)