vrijdag 2 mei 2014

Zoo. Go Back To The Zoo

Go Back To The Zoo is back with its third album. After the, at times too, poppy 'Benny Blisto' (2010), the ambitious and good 'Shake a wave' (2012), now there is Zoo. The ambition of GBTTZ is clear from the very first notes of Zoo. A mix of 'Sympathy for the devil' and 'You can't always get what you want' is offered on what is the second single of Zoo 'Head up high'. A great, spacious, clear sound, with more details than ever before. Working with producer Youth clearly is a great step forward. This level is effortlessly continued in the second song and first single '(I just want a) Milkshake)'. A very convincing start of Zoo, but is GBTTZ able to keep this level up?

In 2010 I wrote a sympathetic review of Benny Blisto in WoNo Magazine on a debut album of a new band that was able to come up with several interesting melodies, but was on the whole learning its trade. They surprised me live in the winter of 2011. GBTTZ really rocked and got the whole of Patronaat dancing and singing. My review of 'Shake a wave' (2012) was positive on this blog. The album showed great progress in playing and songwriting. Less poppy and more rocking.

In 2014 GBTTZ knows what works. Some of the songs have the audience effects for the festival pastures already built in. The sound is great, fat, deep drums, a strong pumping bass. Producer Youth has made the sound wide, spacious, creating the room for all sorts of nice effects that give songs distinctive features. Piano, organ, choir, strong, Keith Richards infused solos. 'Head up high' is the standard of all things on Zoo. The opening statement is so strong. Unfortunately this level is not kept up on Zoo. In some songs I have the feeling GBTTZ is trying too hard. That makes Zoo an album of peaks and canyons. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The good songs are really good, setting them apart from the fold. Songs that many a band would wish they had working for them on their repertoire. GBTTZ really delivers in those songs.

The other thing I will never really get used to is Cas Hieltjes' voice. I get some reactions at over exposure, but his voice fits the music GBTTZ plays (but the 'th' just has to be better!). The 80s influence in the drumming and The police and more poppy 80s guitar licks in 'Charlene' is not my cup of tea either. 'Charlene' is a very poppy tune, but just a little bit too much so. Overdoing it. In more songs it is like GBTTZ has listened to several other bands very closely and came up with a song in that mode. Kings of Leon in 'You'? Certainly, but 'You' is a well made song, with all effects in the right places. This is just an example, but is exemplary for Zoo. Disco? Why not. 'Situation' offers just that. Bee Gees, Foxy?, 'Situation' offers it all. Again I have to admit that the song is very well made and has a rock guitar, rhythm and solo, at exactly the right moment, changing the mood and face of the song. Teun Hieltjes again does a Keith/Ronny solo here. From disco to The Black Crowes in minutes.

The examples given just now can be repeated with nearly all songs. It irritates me a little as I'm spending more time at trying to define what I'm hearing while reviewing Zoo instead of enjoying the music. This will stop over time, but the question that is staring me in the face is, will I put Zoo on again? With 'Shake a wave' I was not faced with this dilemma. And then GBTTZ presents some sort of reggae as well in the form of 'Decision'. It's just too forced. At this point I have to conclude that Zoo is not my album.

Seen from a production point of view Go Back To The Zoo really made a good step forward. In the songs they did not. And this is the driving thing of releasing a record as a band, isn't it? Where Blaudzun, Moss and De Staat made, at least in my opinion, their best album to date, Go Back To The Zoo did not. Zoo is not a bad record, I just had hoped for a better one. Zoo is a sympathetic album, I can't make much more of it, despite the fantastic beginning with the two singles and the great chorus of 'Miracle', which is very much Handsome Poets like. Better next time? I don't doubt it, Go Back To The Zoo has a better album within itself.

Wo.

You can listen to '(I just want a) Milkshake' here.

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