Zulu Winter – Language (album) (PIAS)
Having been introduced to the band earlier this year via two very strong singles (“We Should Be Swimming” and “Silver Tongue”), there was much excitement surrounding the release of ‘Language,’ the debut album from this new London five piece.
The album kicks off with the mid-tempo ‘Key To My Heart’, which shares similar sonic qualities to ‘The Temper Trap’ with glistening and buzzing synths, swirling organs, dominant atmospherics and ‘U2’-esque sounding guitars. Vocally, Will Daunt has a similar tone and style to that of ‘Friendly Fires’ and throughout each of the album’s 11 tracks, the lead vocal is met by a softer, falsetto vocal creating a double for the choruses adding to the atmospherics and creating a dream-like quality to Zulu Winter’s sound.
‘We Should Be Swimming’ follows next, led by an up-tempo drum groove leading us into another dream-like chorus filled with keyboard atmospherics. As the second single off the album, ‘We Should Be Swimming’ is a solid number with post-punk characteristics in a way that is not too dissimilar to say, ‘Echo and The Bunnymen’.
What becomes immediately apparent after just two songs into the album is that Zulu Winter has a very distinctive and recognizable sound, which is incredible considering the band formed less than 12 months ago.
‘Bitter Moon’ and ‘Small Pieces’ continue on in the same fashion as the album’s mid-tempo opener doing little to move the album along and it’s also at this point that the listener notices how similar the vocal melodies are. Luckily the band’s first single off the album, ‘Silver Tongue’ picks up the pace. Characterized by ‘Friendly Fires’ style disco vocals and an ‘M83’ worthy 80’s sounding chorus, ‘Silver Tongue’ demonstrates Zulu Winter’s ability to write extremely subtle but catchy pop hooks.
‘You Deserve Better’ is another great song, opening this time without keys or atmospherics, offering a welcome break with its minimal instrumentation. The keys and atmospherics however do return in the chorus combining with a catchy vocal and later in the song, a rare guitar solo.
Along with the album’s first two singles, ‘Let’s Move Back To The Front’ is the highlight track for me and possesses a stronger groove than any other on the album, capped off with brilliant vocal rhythm and sharing qualities once again to ‘Friendly Fires’ on their debut album.
‘Words That I Wield’ has a sound and vocal quality similar to ‘Coldplay’ circa ‘X&Y’ and this is an area you sense the band may explore further in the future.
It is a testament to Zulu Winter that they’ve found such a stylized and distinctive sound so early on in their career, however by the time the album finishes, that very sound that echoes throughout ‘Language’ becomes a tad same-ish, overshadowing some of the later tracks due to their absence of any real dynamic. Thus the album runs the risk of becoming a blur but stick with it, give it multiple spins and the album’s finer details reveal themselves and result in what is a captivating solid debut album.
Watch the video for “Silver Tongue” below: