Zulu Winter – Language
Don’t expect to whack on Zulu Winter’s latest offering and let it fade into pleasant background noise. Language is whimsical without being dreary, and upbeat despite its ultimately laid back mood. Unfortunately, the album is a case of a talented bunch of youngsters aiming big and just not quite making the jump. Enjoyable in a non-offensive way, the band’s immaturity does not go unnoticed, hamstringing what was conceptually a nice idea.
The best element of the album is the shimmering, heavenly-chorus-reminiscent synth curtain which is used as a backdrop throughout. It’s incredibly effective at giving the band a grandiose sound, best sampled on “Small Pieces”, and they’re desperately staking their claim to play a big venue, promising to blanket every corner of the space in sound.
Building from this base, Zulu Winter conduct some fascinating meditations on sound. The constant background noise allows what would otherwise be an eccentric dabble on a high pitched electric guitar in “You Deserve Better” to rather star as an enjoyable curiosity. Similarly, the drumming is forceful in most tracks, but somehow against that backdrop it’s cushioned without being dulled.
In combination with the blurring and overlap of outros/intros of individual tracks, the synth adds to the overall dream-like mood of the album. Songs seem to push forth from the haze to deliver some quirky electronic soundbite, before quickly retreating back into the white noise.
It’s an enjoyable effect to tie the album together, however it does make it difficult to differentiate between tunes, and unfortunately this lack of variation becomes tedious when Zulu Winter run out of musical tricks. “Let’s Move Back To Front” is demure in every aspect, and “Never Leave” is a miscalculated mess of smearing a lot of similar noises together. In fact the entire latter half of the album suggests they lost interest in the concept when the job was only half done.
“Key To My Heart” features some terribly cliché lines, and someone desperately needs to teach the kids the value of a metaphor, making evident the drastically underdeveloped lyrics of Language in contrast to the interesting musical direction present on the album.
This polarisation in quality peaks on “Bitter Moon”. While musically very entertaining and well structured, with some quieter moments leaving room for the huge guitar-shredding solo to burst into, on the other hand it’s absolutely ruined by the repetition of a single lyric.
Ultimately, Language sounds like nothing we haven’t heard before, reminiscent of a less poppy “Dreams” by Evermore. Zulu Winter do just enough to make you keep this one in mind, but barely. It contains some quirky tidbits to prick up your ears and question what they were doing there, but ultimately, when considered as a final product, you’ll be left feeling apathetic.
by Jarryd Bendall