Review : Zero 7 - Yeah Ghost
UrbThere's a reason we haven't heard from British downtempo bad-boys Zero 7 in awhile--they've been doing a little redecorating in the their dimly lit club lounge, where they spent many years entertaining introspective and existential conversations about identity, hopes, fears, and dreams. Gone are the chic chaises you used to slip down into for hours, your headphones protecting you from everyone and everything; instead, Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker hope you'll get up off your ass, grab your cocktail, and mingle...with other people. They've turned the lights up just a little, too--don't worry, it's still sexy as hell, with everyone under the impeccable soft, golden glow of the pair's meticulously-installed lighting system.
Zero 7's previous incarnations had us questioning our very own existence, pondering now cliched ideas over reality: "Do you believe/ In what you see/ Motionless wheel/ Nothing is real/ Wasting my time/ In the waiting line." Binns makes an unexpected vocal showing on "Everything is Up (Zizou)" to declare that those days of hesitation and caution to participate in the world around us are over: "Yes we can/ Imagine if we can," he insists, over the sounds of twinkling little bells that you can only imagine are what stars sound like.
Simple Things and The Garden were more or less what you would call "headphone" albums, and Yeah Ghost signals a reawakening of sorts--they're taking off the cans and rejoining the party, gathering up their fans to enjoy the music together. The duo is looking outward, not inward, this time and, damn, does it "feel good/ so right," as their latest ingenue proclaims on "Mr. McGee." What the duo did for Sia back on Simple Things, they now do for South London soul/jazz singer Eska Mtgungwazi. Her powerhouse voice is hinted at, but never forced or showy, as she adds her sensual mixture of jazz, funk, and hints of disco. She, without a doubt, steals the show on Yeah Ghost, shining on the aforementioned "Mr. McGee," and bringing an old-school, soul music sensibility to "Medicine Man"--the clear album standout....full text
GuardianHaving lost longtime vocalist Sia to a solo career, Zero 7 conceived Yeah Ghost as a predominantly instrumental album, which almost certainly would have rendered it too "chillaxed" for its own good. But sense prevailed, and the duo roped in new vocalists who have shaken the music out of its torpor. Anglo-Zimbabwean singer Eska Mtungwazi, in particular, lights up her tracks with vibrant performances that eclipse everything else here – her foray into Basement Jaxx-ish disco, Mr McGee, is easily the bubbliest moment of the band's career. English folkie Martha Tilston's beautiful delivery of the skittering Pop Art Blue is another highlight, and a rare lead vocal from Zero 7 co-founder Henry Binns gives Everything Up (Zizou) a bright, Britpoppy twist....full text
AllmusicStudio mainstays for well over a decade, Zero 7's Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker can wring an expert production from nearly any song, whether it's synth-based or band-based, instrumental or vocal, unadulterated pop or colored with some other genre shade thereof. Their fourth album as Zero 7 includes all of those approaches, so file it as another in a career of ever-evolving records that have moved them from chilled downbeat into dynamic alternative pop. A dedicated rhythm section appears on half the record, accentuating the feel that this is a band record -- albeit impeccably produced -- with an array of guests taking vocal turns. As before, the songs are written well and the guest vocalists are selected with care, but they're usually overwhelmed by the numerous production touches. Each song is a variation on the pop form, whether it's straight commercial pop on "Mr McGee," neo-soul on "Medicine Man," folkie introspection on "Swing," or starburst electronica on "Pop Art Blue." The best and most natural blend occurs on "Everything Up (Zizou)," which has a bit of indie guitar over its sheen of electronic pop, with vocals from Binns himself and the most impressive of the guests, Eska (who sings over five tracks total). Though Zero 7 are still not in the same class as Air (or even Phoenix), Yeah Ghost is an enjoyable record that shows them apparently on the way to something more unique....full text
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