13 July 2013

Zero 7 - When It Falls


Billed as the UK's answer to Air, Zero 7 first entered the national conscience with their debut album Simple Things in 2001, with Destiny carrying the torch of bringing electronica music to the masses. Of course, there will always be comparisons drawn between the act and their French counterparts although a plethora of session musicians once again were on hand to fulfil the laid back imaginations of studio engineers Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker. Only this time we saw a new vocalist to the foray in critically acclaimed Danish chanteuse Tina Dico, a down to earth personality with soft and yet outreaching vocals.

When It Falls is the second album of Zero 7 and the follow up to Simple Things which I have reviewed previously and praised very much, so inevitably this offering  has such a precedence to follow. I'll get straight to the point on the weak aspects as there are one or two notable flaws. First of all, In Time is not one of Sophie Barker's finer moments. She is an accomplished musician but on this occasion I'm not entirely sure as to why it all seems wrong, it just seems that the harmony and chord structure have been hurriedly put together and that some of the notes are a little beyond her range. She does better with Passing By but the bass lines sound disjointed and out of place, it comes close to ruining the easy listening. Somersault (Sia Furler sung) flows easily with good string accompaniment but is there a real need for the song to go on for twice as long when Furler ends? I know I'm probably nitpicking here, so the jury's still out on this one.

Thankfully, this is where the moaning stops because WIF does have some genuinely pleasing audio delights. First, Home is a Dico led filler, a strong confident showing, while the title track is a basic electronic no frills instrumental. Furler shows a rare fragility and thinly disguised sensitivity on Speed Dial No. 2. However, few reviews I've read haven't even given a mention to Look Up as this is one of the other highlights. It's basically a subtle but powerful synths and strings number accompanied by a harmonica and eventually almost childlike chanting towards the end of it. And a strong showing of The Space Between (Tina Dico) is also one of the album's main selling points.

Granted that When It Falls was never going to upstage its predecessor, and perhaps evidence that Binns and Hardaker didn't have too many ideas going either when it came to mixing the record. However, it's an album with an acquired taste, i.e. ideally you need to listen to it at least two or three times to get to the cut of its jib and to understand its impact, because the point of WIF is there. You just got to allow some things in life time and patience. M Richardson 13/07/2013.

7 out of ten. This is good and well worth a check.


 


You can buy the album here on Amazon

You can listen to When It Falls here on Spotify

No official website, but Zero 7 do have a Facebook page updated regularly

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