Review: Zulu Winter – Language
Published on May 15th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
While showing plenty of promise, the London five-piece’s debut album suffers – as many first outings do, to be fair – from an overall sound that you could not describe as being unmistakably their own.
There is much to admire here, the colossal drums, layered vocals, swathes of synth and liberal applications of reverb lending a dreamlike quality to what is ostensibly a more-or-less traditional rock band set-up, while Will Daunt’s assured, undramatic vocal delivery ploughs an agreeable furrow through the grand, echoey soundscapes.
Single “We Should Be Swimming” takes the dreaded indie-disco beat into mercifully smart territory, Doves-y lead guitar shimmering overhead, and “Bitter Moon” leads a near-samba rhythm into an awestruck chorus that paves the way rather niftily for unusual stomp of “Small Pieces”, the “What kind of man are you? / Holding onto that feeling” refrain of which unintentionally sums up Zulu Winter’s main problem, namely that they cling to their big, washy sound like a band that either hasn’t yet discovered what else they’re capable of.
The jerky, synthswept funk-rush of “Silver Tongue” reminds of Talking Heads and The Dismemberment Plan, two bands Zulu Winter could learn a lot from given their apparent penchant for unusual rhythms and syncopated basslines, while this bottom-end dynamic also works a treat on “Let’s Move Back to Front”, which incidentally ends with a synth pad that sounds as if it’s about to break into “Lucky You” by The Lightning Seeds (obviously it doesn’t).
“Never Leave” is perhaps the album’s highlight, a strange looped backing vocal and whirring sci-fi keyboard grabbing the attention before it all bursts about halfway through into a big wall of guitar feedback that in turn makes way for splendorous synthery like storm clouds parting to reveal the sun. Then, then, it ends totally unexpectedly with a marvellous a capella rendition of “We Should Be Swimming”, harmonies and all. Tremendous.
“People That You Must Remember” makes for a pleasant exit, all glowing keyboard arpeggios, gently trotting beat and wistful singlaong chorus, but the feeling lingers that there’s better yet to come from Zulu Winter.
Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!