Newton Faulkner
Studio Zoo


4.0
excellent

Review

by Rowan5215 USER (25 Reviews)
August 25th, 2013 | 76 replies


Release Date: 08/26/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Less of a zoo and more of a sombre, nostalgic photobook...

Newton Faulkner's seemingly effortless ability to create insanely catchy and memorable hooks, along with his distinctive percussion-on-guitar playing style, are the things that have driven his career up to this point. Having created three albums so far (2007's Hand Built by Robots, 2009's Rebuilt by Humans and 2012's Write it on Your Skin) following mostly the same style, another distinctive feature began to emerge about the British singer-songwriter; that despite his seemingly cheerful demeanour and sunny melodies, he's a man with his share of emotional turmoils.

Initially, Studio Zoo seems to follow in the footsteps of the previous albums; both album opener "Where to Start" and first single "Losing Ground" largely follow the beaten-down-lyrically-but-optimistic-musically approach. As one digs deeper into Studio Zoo, however, it becomes apparent that in the short year since WIOYS, Newton Faulkner has become a changed man. The almost out-and-out depression that could be found on some older songs (see "Ageing Superhero", "Uncomfortably Slow" and "In the Morning") has been replaced with a state of sombre reflection; a state of quiet nostalgia.

Take, for example, "Treading Water" and "Lay Down". Both are unusually slow-paced, and deprived of Faulkner's usual distinctive hooks. This means that instead they have to rely on both his lyrics and vocal ability to stay interesting. Fortunately, the former are strong and unmitigated, and the latter is at its peak in his career thus far. Faulkner's voice is still a wonder, striding out with open arms amongst the seas of plucked and strummed strings. He uses his range to full effect, switching from a quiet, sombre low tone on the innovative "In My Head" to a beautiful, unfaltering falsetto on "At the Seams". His renowned guitar virtuosity, meanwhile, has largely been set aside in favour of a more calculated and less showmanship-ish approach that suits the largely downbeat nature of the songs; however, when he does decide to bring back his upbeat melodies and percussive skills, he proves he can still absolutely hit the right spot, such as on the intently uplifting "Plastic Hearts". On the astonishing album closer "Orange Skies", Faulkner exercises a new skill in seamlessly combining both aspects of his sound, merging one of the most addicting vocal melodies you'll hear this year with the sombre tone of the other songs on Studio Zoo to create a riveting album standout.

Unfortunately, the problems with consistency that plagued Rebuilt by Humans and Write it on Your Skin have returned on Studio Zoo, although in a much lesser capacity. "Just Outside" and "Don't Make Me Go There" are both weak filler tracks that could've (and should've) been discarded, in favour of both album consistency and a more manageable runtime, and neither prove to be particularly memorable or noteworthy after repeated listens. Outside these two tracks, however, everything on the album eventually reveals something to contribute; a catchy melody here, a clever lyrical phrase there, all with some incredible guitarwork on top; hell, even a completely different style on "In My Head", hitherto unexplored territory for Faulkner, with its atmospheric guitar backdrop and haunting layered vocals.

In conclusion, Faulkner may never again be able to reach the outstanding songwriting ability and consistency that his debut album showcased; but his lyrical, vocal and instrumental talents are just as good (if not better) than ever. More than anything, he proves that he is still a master at evoking, controlling and directing the emotions of his audience, and it is at this that he truly excels on Studio Zoo.



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user ratings (7)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
August 25th 2013


28819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Stream: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/rockandpopmusic/10255801/Newton-Faulkner-Studio-Zoo-exclusive-album-stream.html

Digging: Sharon Van Etten - Are We There

Rowan5215
August 25th 2013


28819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks to whoever fixed up the artwork.

tommygun
August 25th 2013


25406 Comments


pos

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Rowan5215
August 25th 2013


28819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love u

tommygun
August 25th 2013


25406 Comments


love u harder man

can't get into this dude srry :[

good review tho

Rowan5215
August 25th 2013


28819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks bro. I know it's not for everyone but his voice and melodies omg
You should check out his debut Hand Built by Robots, even if you don't dig singer-songwriter at all that album is incredible.

tommygun
August 25th 2013


25406 Comments


i'll put it on me list

i remember not liking the single(s) from that but it's quite possible that was due to radio rape so yea

Rowan5215
August 25th 2013


28819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah dude the singles are solid but obviously made to be the catchiest and most immediate stuff on the album, it's when he slows down that he makes his best stuff. Check this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57p5CRtxirE

tommygun
August 25th 2013


25406 Comments


good tune that

sounds like sweet jams for summer time beach house chillin

will check the album

Rowan5215
August 25th 2013


28819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah he's definitely music for chilling although some songs are a bit more energetic. Just don't jam it while you're in low spirits it's a real bummer.

tommygun
August 25th 2013


25406 Comments


haha noted

i'm high as fuck on paint stripper fumes right now so everything sounds good :]

Rowan5215
August 25th 2013


28819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Best way to get high, keep jammin m/

tommygun
August 25th 2013


25406 Comments


lol it didn't happen deliberately! just redoing skirtings in a poorly ventilated room!

i will keep def keep jammin tho :]

Rowan5215
August 25th 2013


28819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah yeah that's what they all say. I'm jammin BSSM now cos previously I only knew Under the Bridge, Give it Away and Sir Psycho Sexy. So fucking good uuuuugggh

tommygun
August 25th 2013


25406 Comments


right on dude great fuckin album

funky monks and i could have lied omg

Rowan5215
August 25th 2013


28819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

And Suck My Kiss, god fucking dammit why did I wait so long to jam it. Sir Psycho Sexy is still the funniest song ever.

I SAID WHAT'S UP NOW SUCK MAH DICK

tommygun
August 25th 2013


25406 Comments


sir psycho goes so hard man dat outro is some hendrix shit

Rowan5215
August 25th 2013


28819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah instrumentally that one is just uggghhh beyond everything. Mellowship Slinky is prob the funkiest song ever.

tommygun
August 25th 2013


25406 Comments


such tasty jamssss

Rowan5215
August 25th 2013


28819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What should I jam next? I know the first half of Californication pretty well but after the t/t I don't really remember much except for Porcelain, Right on Time and Road Trippin'. I remember it was pretty hard to sit through the whole thing last time I jammed so idk

I know three songs off By the Way (t/t, Zephyr Song and Can't Stop) all of which are among my favourite RHCP songs so maybe that?

And yeah only really know Dani California and Tell Me Baby from Stadium.



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