Review : Zulu Winter - Language
PitchforkThere's a fundamental disconnect between the band that London's Zulu Winter seem to be and the music that appears on their debut album. From looking at their blog and reading interviews with Will Daunt, Iain Lock, Dom Millard, Henry Walton, and Guy Henderson, they seem to be erudite guys with interests in offbeat cultural pies: forming amid a culture of Can and Beefheart wannabes at Liverpool University, citing FC Judd, Bradford Cox, Tracey Warr, Bulgakov, and Georges Méliès as influences and interests. The five-piece had nearly all the material for their debut album written and recorded before taking it to labels, giving the impression that they'd been locked away making what could be their first avant masterpiece. Of course, highbrow, obscure interests don't necessarily translate into whatever art or job you choose to occupy yourself with, but it feels like a red herring that Zulu Winter's debut album brims with the kind of mooing, wan electro-indie montage music typical of Bombay Bicycle Club and Two Door Cinema, the Maccabees, and the faintest shadow of Foals' less compelling material. Doused in interminable glimmering drones and wimpers, spending 45 minutes in its company feels like being smothered inside a snowglobe.
Language seems boiled up in a lab as antidote for those Sunday afternoons at the Reading and Leeds festivals when burger bloat is taking its toll, and the idea of going to see Friendly Fires seems just that bit too strenuous; it's a universal tongue intimating the cosy bosom of warm synthesizers, dreamy noodling, and softly cawed vocals. "Let's Move Back to Front" trembles, glimmers, and has a good old go at a cowbell ding-dong, bearing a herky jerky scat chorus that suggests embarking on this limp kinesis after promising the chance to "dance 'til you don't know your name" earlier in the verse. It's perfectly serviceable and not particularly offensive until the final minute, where they tack on some needless birdsong and vapid drones to no discernible end. They try and get fancy at the end of "Never Leave", too, topping off a litany of chanted "non non non"s that make up the backbone of the song with the robotic incantation "we should be swimming, swimming," seemingly a sort of ill-conceived Beach Boys/Animal Collective tribute. The appealingly dank quasi-minimal techno hum at the end of the song actually called "We Should Be Swimming" undulates quite beautifully, but it bears no relation to the previous few minutes. These moments feel like confused, half-grabs at experimentalism on an album that's sure to fill rafters and please younger listeners with its effortlessly epic reach, a suggestion that Zulu Winter are trying to deter the kind of audience that they know will come. ...full text
MusicomhIt would be an understatement to say that Zulu Winter’s rise to prominence has been swift. Formed only in 2011, the London five-piece have been tipped by many for big things and have already received a great deal of radio play; two of the band’s songs, We Should Be Swimming and Silver Tongue, in particular.
And there's undoubtedly substance to the hype when it comes to Zulu Winter. The pressure that comes with being the latest buzz band can often be restrictive, but listening to Zulu Winter’s debut album, Language, doesn't suggest a band stymied. The quintet may not be earth-shatteringly radical or different, but their electro sheen and tight guitar work is an impressive and addictive concoction.
The album opens with Key To My Heart, which begins with a tribal beat and a sprawling synth before building towards its swirling conclusion. While not a bad opener, it does little to grab the imagination. It’s followed by second single, We Should Be Swimming, with Ian Lock’s seductive bass and Henry Walton’s unfurling guitars taking centre stage. It’s certainly an improvement on the opener, but there’s no doubt that the start of Language is rather safe - if not underwhelming.
However, the band hit their stride with latest single Silver Tongue, which positively bursts to life on the fist-pumping chorus with Dom Millard’s gushing synths and a reverberating guitar melody following the juttering verse. It sounds like a cross between Delphic and Friendly Fires - in a good way. Elsewhere, Bitter Moon is a Coldplay-esque grandiose anthem, with lead singer Will Daunt’s comforting vocals lifting off on the beautiful chorus as he sings: “Hey! Turn the light on/ this bitter moon is rising.”...full text
NmeThere’s currently a sizeable groundswell of young British bands like Zulu Winter: ensembles proffering modern and ‘cool’ musical motifs while, ultimately, being too earnest and populist for actual bleedin’-edge cool. A few strokes of fortune might send this London quintet – or, say, Clock Opera or Fixers – towards stratospheric hugeness. You can imagine a future where debut album ‘Language’, with its nods to Echo And The Bunnymen gloom, gauzy electro-indie keyboard swirls and booming ’80s drums, went down as Zulu Winter’s mildly quirky preamble before they pulled out their Coldplay-ish big guns. And where defensive fans quacked on about “preferring the earlier stuff”....full text
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