Review: Jack Foley
IT'S pretty much normal service resumed for Zero 7, three years
after the release of their stunning debut album, Simple
When It Falls, which features many of the same collaborations
which helped to make the first album so memorable, as well as
a few notable additions, is another supremely seductive piece
of chill-out, which proves that the debut was no mistake.
It may not be as inventive as some might have hoped, or as strong
a follow-up as, say, Coldplay's Rush
of Blood to the Head, but it is an exquisitely crafted, supremely
beautiful record, capable of wiping away the misery of any rotten
Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns seem to have cornered the market
in making music to soothe you, especially in their choice of laidback
vocalists. Hence, the dream-like, husky tones of Sia Furler and
Sophie Barker are back, as is the supremely mellow vibe associated
Bolstering them is the presence of Tina Dico, on tracks such
as lead single, Home, and The Space Between, which
continue to possess all the hallmarks of Zero 7 - if a little
more mellower than ever before.
The album gets off to a fine start with Warm Sound, which
features a variety of strings, acoustic guitars, wurlitzers and
flute to the familiar sounds of Mozez' soft vocals, evoking memories
of the beginning of Simple Things.
Home follows in its wake, cleverly introducing new vocalist,
Dico, and some neat trombone, before Furler takes control with
the divine Somersault, a passive, breezy daydream of a
track, with echoes of country.
It is refreshing to find Furler back to her vocal best, stretching
herself in ways that you feel her solo material never does (however
good it remains).
Barker takes the limelight during tracks such as Passing By
and In Time, which make neat companion pieces to her work
on Simple Things, creaping up on you like a tantalising whisper
in your ear.
There is an effortless ability, within Barker's vocals, to chill
you out, and Hardaker and Binns ensure that the beats and harmonies
are such that they never become intrusive.
The one, minor criticism of the album is that it plays things
very safe - too safe, maybe - for there is very little in the
way of progression for the more discerning listener.
Fleeting moments, such as the Bonobo/Lalo
Schiffrin-inspired Look Up, make you yearn for more in
the same vein, while the instrumental title track, When It
Falls, hints at something darker.
But when the burden of expectation is so high, you can understand
why the duo have opted to stick with what they know. If it aint
broke, why fix it?
What they have done, however, is to please the die-hard followers,
while hinting at possible future directions.
The result is deeply alluring and a sure contender for one of
the chillout soundtracks to the blissed out Summer.
1. Warm Sound
4. Over Our Heads
5. Passing By
6. When It Falls
7. The Space Between
8. Look Up
9. In Time
10. Speed Dial No. 2
11. Morning Song