Zero 7 - Record
Eleven years since Zero 7 first piqued our interest with their debut, ‘EP1’, latest greatest hits compilation ‘Record’ is released today, marking the return of the down tempo duo, Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker, so laid back they’re practically horizontal.
Among other dance duos, such as The Chemical Brothers, Justice and 2manydjs, to name a few, the group have certainly carved out their own niche, rooted securely at the rather more non-descript end of the spectrum. As albums go ‘Record’ is less a shot of Jack Daniels and an e tab, more a mug of Ovaltine and two aspirin. That is not to say that for a band to be successful, they should have their speaker volume set on a default of eleven – but a hook or two amongst an album of sixteen tracks might be useful in sustaining a listener’s interest.
Kicking things off with the hazy, beck-esque guitar, piano, and synths combo of ‘Futures’ makes for a pleasant, if somewhat unenthusiastic start to the album, a slice of ambient, blissed out lounge music – chillwave, before chillwave even existed. Among other such agreeable, but forgettable numbers are ‘Mr McGee’, with its harmony of chanted vocals, and even, dare I say it, a trace of Jazz, and ‘Swing’, an enjoyable song which recalls Yann Tiersen’s work, albeit with a few more handclaps, and breezy sighed vocals. Sadly, though, apart from these (relative) highs, the album doesn’t have a lot going for it. It’s not that tracks such as penultimate tune ‘Distractions’ don’t have their uses, it’s just that, unfortunately, these uses seem to be limited to being played to death by middle aged men desperate to convey their musical awareness, soundtracking dreadfully dull dinner parties, and aiding the insomniacs among us in catching the occasional forty winks.
There is, sporadically, a track that gives a glimpse into the former brilliance of the band, the immediately recognisable reverb of ‘Destiny’ and the slightly off kilter, dreamy vocals of ‘Home’ inspiring nostalgic reminiscences from many an old clubber, yet no single song adequately sparks your desire to start rifling through your record collection in search of their extended back catalogue. If ‘Record’ is a good starting point for anyone wishing to discover the duo’s music, for the most part, the audience will be glad that their trajectory ended where it did.