zZz - Running With The Beast
Take a couple of Dutchmen, an organ and a drum kit then lock them in a room with some old Human League & Tubeway Army records and get them to bang out an album…sounds positively awe inspiring doesn't it?! Welcome to zZz!
I have voiced my aversion to the eighties revival before, in the hope that there may be an end to it all before the inevitable reformation of Culture Club (thankfully the hand of the law has intervened to delay that one!). But I'm not one to wear blinkers, so I decided to throw myself at zZz without prejudice and you know what, it was nowhere near as bad as it threatened to be! One other band that sprang to mind on playing this was Blancmange, who nobody has ever heard of, but I rather liked them back then (I was young ok?), so maybe that's why I got suckered in.
Opening track “Lover” is incredible - it stampedes through your head like the bastard son of The Chemical Brothers and MGMT, and gives surprising hope for something quite exceptional. Unfortunately, they don't keep up that sort of pace afterwards, but there are moments of wonderment and then others of bewilderment. I think I tried taking the whole exercise too seriously and realised that the key was not to! If you draw pleasure from the highlights rather than mock the more frivolous ones, you discover that the better tracks are indeed very worthwhile indeed.
“Grip” is a great song with a grinding hook of a bass line blatantly stolen from The Stranglers, whilst “The Movies” actually has a soulful groove to it. When they drop the pace right back, they actually sound better for it; vocally reminiscent of Ian Curtis (boy, has 'Control' got a lot to answer for) but with a more gothic feel, possibly better likened to Bauhaus. Songs like “Angel” and “Islands” illustrate that deeper side of the duo but one feels the songs deserve better surroundings to be fully appreciated.
All in all then I actually enjoyed the experience and went back for seconds. It's really only spoilt by the drifting into flippancy at times, but the quality moments are indeed good. Come the end of the year it may well be a discarded memento but right now it merits 45 minutes of your valuable time.