Come Out and Play
Zoo Story’s official Web site claims that this is the group’s “debut album,” but that’s not really true, because they released a self-titled album last year. Then again, that album contained eight of the twelve tracks featured here, so maybe they just mean that this is “a slightly changed re-release of last year’s debut album.” Simple mistake, really.
Zoo Story also claims on that Web site that they are influenced mostly by classic rock groups: Queen, Led Zeppelin (definitely the incongruous influence of choice these days), The Beatles, and U2. The Queen part is kind of true: singer Randy Coleman can attain Freddie Mercury-level operatics when he wants to, and Carlos Rivera’s guitar work sounds like both Brian May and The Edge at various points here. But there’s none of U2’s high-mindedness or Queen’s sense of humor anywhere here — just mostly songs about girls, mostly wistful, all of them just crying out to be played on that sad thing called “alternative rock” radio.
But I’m a little surprised that they didn’t list Radiohead, because large portions of this disc are just way too similar to songs on The Bends: same 6/8 tempo, same overreliance on massive amounts of chord changes, same Yorkean breathless octave jumps to indicate deep longing. “M” and “She Don’t Care” both sound like they want to segue into tamer versions of “Just,” but then go off into high school heart-tugging, talking about angels and shooting stars and icky stuff like that.
Look, I’m not saying that they’re not a good band, for what they are–some of the more ambitious songs here, like “Midnight Luna” and “Mantaray,” definitely show that Zoo Story could go off and make a really good album somewhere down the line. But this debut/not-debut album isn’t it. It’s just pretty good, and it sounds too much like their influences. But hell, Radiohead’s Pablo Honey sounded too much like The Pixies, so there’s definitely hope for Zoo Story.
Zoo Story: http://www.zoostory.net