I love Zero 7. I love some of the music on this album, but it is definitly my least favorite, and it pains me to say that.
Throw out all the five star and one star reviews, and check out what people are saying. We're all here because we love this group's music, so what's different on this album?As other reviewers have pointed out, there are a lot of half-realized works. Overall, the vocals are fine, but I do find myself missing the variety of three contrasting lead vocalists: Sophie Barker or Tina Dico or Mozez. I also miss the gorgeous strings they used to drop with great effect. To give an example of flashes of brilliance, let's take the beginning of the album.
"Futures" kicks off the album, introduces Jose Gonzalez, and sounds great. Then about 2 1/2 minutes in, it just goofs around with some annoying sound editing (one effect sounds like your CD is skipping) and then brings in some obvious and klunky percussion. This give you the sense they are building up one of their epic climaxes, but it just dies there. 2 1/2 minutes, then mediocrity. Bummer.
The next tune, "Throw It All Away" sounds great and surprisingly bouncy, but then a couple of things happen. The energy really kind of drops on the chorus. It's unsatisfying, and you can hear Sia's soulful licks coming before they happen because, well, there's so little to do. And then a little annoying guitar line comes in; it sounds amateurish. Coming from Zero 7, I'm surprised.
Then comes an instrumental tune, "Seeing Things." Great production, but kind of soulless. My wife walked in while it was playing and said that it sounded like "video game music." Ouch--that's my Zero 7 your talking about! But she had a point.
"Pageant of the Bizarre" and "Fine Social Scene" sound nice, but depend on you really connecting with their repetitive builds, and thanks to some buzzy guitar work, it works for me on Social Scene, but the beginning of Bizarre is a better song. Again, pieces of brilliance.
So what did I think was perfect?
I'm glad another review mentioned "Left Behind." It's a gorgeous one minute song. But one minute?! I would have loved to hear them transform this jewel into one of their six-minute epics. Oh well.
"You're My Flame" take their new techie-chill-bouncy approach and nails it; Sia sounds great without digging into her soul bag.
"Today" takes a samba beat and throws the patented Zero & chill on top; Jose Gonzalez is perfect. Great track.
Overall, pieces of most everything on the album sound wonderful, but there are a lot of bland let-downs for this Zero 7 fan. But I still love 'em and I aint going anywhere.