Zeus – [Album]

Saturday, 27 February 2010

The problem so many rock bands suffer from has always been that, no matter what sort of music they want to make, they feel compelled to approach it with a sort of tunnel vision; they have to come into it in their own time, put their own stamp on it and make it their own. It's their way or no way. It's commonplace for a band to want to twist the idiom they're working in and put their own face on it; there just aren't many bands that approach a style of music on ITS OWN terms.

While it might be a 'rare' or 'unusual' practice now, it does still happen, occasionally. There are musicians that absorb a style of music and make it on the terms dictated by the style; they leave their egos at home and present themselves as purveyors or disciples of an idea that wasn't originally their own, but they like the idea, want to be associated with it and want to show it to other people. Hawksley Workman has based his entire career on this subservient ethos – he presents his rock as a theatrical enactment that he tries to do justice – and now Zeus has adopted a similar working practice with Say Us.

That there's no doubt Zeus' new album has a streak of homage running through it isn't to say it's a mawkish replication of someone else's work. Rather, Say Us attempts to live up to the history and work of those that came before with a healthy respect.

That respect shows plainly from the opening sketch of “How Does It Feel?” which draws out the basic structures of theater and rock that the band will play with for the eleven tracks that proceed it. Unlike Hawksley Workman – who also injects some vaudeville into his music to lighten it up – Zeus pays love and respect to the theatrical bent that rock has always possessed (think Bowie and T. Rex in the Seventies) but plays it as a true-believer's exposition rather than some ironic commentary on the state of music. That genuine sense shines through songs like “Kindergarten,” “Greater Times On The Wayside” and “You Tell 'er” as singer David Hamelin steps up and strikes the rock god stance flanked by some 'straight outta the Motor City' guitars and punctuated by fantastic rhythmic keys. There is revelry in the band's eyes as they knock those numbers (and more) out that proves the band is loving this, and that proves to be an infectious commodity; the more the band feels it, the more they cause listeners to feel it too.

As the record draws to a close with the only ironic, tongue-in-cheek moment in its run-time (“At The Risk Of Repeating”), those that followed the band all the way through the record are left feeling energized and ready to play the whole thing again – it's the kind of record that will find you hitting repeat because it just feels so good to do it. In Say Us, Zeus has discovered a new kind of classic; using equal amounts of time-honored blueprints but the young man's true belief that good music can change the lives of both those that make it and those that hear it, Zeus have hit a charmed nerve on Say Us. Here's hoping they're not too ling in doing it again.



Zeus – “Marching Through Your Head” from Say Us – [mp3]


Say Us is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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