Indie pop rock bands are available by the dozen so it takes talent and a certain something to stand out and Zola Blood’s “Infinite Games” does that for me. Their first full release after a few singles and an EP, it sets their tone as electronic rock in the same vein as the fantastic Duologue.
The title track opens the album, but it’s actually one of the least hooked songs on the album. It introduces you to each element of their sound though. Keyboards replace guitars where possible, percussion that blends rock and dance tropes keep the beat going, a bass line pulsates to get you going and an introspective voice discusses love, life and all kinds of miserable things of confusion. “Heartbeat” is where the groups ear for a catchy hook comes in. Short acoustic guitar samples rotate around the track with all kinds of weird and wonderful percussive noises keep the synths from ever getting stale as they play the minor key game. The vibe is chilled, but downbeat. It makes me think of what the New Romantic’s era would maybe sound like with today’s technology. The fantastic “The Good Thing” is a standout single that should be on regular radio rotation. Catchy, tightly woven and with plenty of soul, it’s where the band push the electronica side the most and it works perfectly.
“Good Love” works the pitch bend on the bass lines to perfection instead to create an isolated and eerie track. It also really lets the vocals do the talking and take centre stage. It’s yet another stand out in an album of standouts, but the paired down confidence of each element of the track really shines here. In contrast “Islands” has lots of wonderful arpeggios and focuses more on the rock side of their song writing. Yes, its full of synths, but its like a rock track being played out on keyboards. “Nothing” really pushes the new romantics late 80’s vibe with cheesy bass lines that blur the line between detuned and defunct, and lots of heavy reverb on all the keyboards. The slick guitar work then adds that pop glisten you associate with things like Duran Duran and the like.
The back-end of the album is a little more experimental. “Miles and Miles” is a wannabe club number but its drum track is purposely held in the background so the club night becomes more of a journey as the synths veer off into prog rock territory. “Play Out” keeps things taut and tense with finger picked electric guitar tinkling behind a noir bass heavy number. “Silhouette” and “Get Light” close out the album with more acoustic instrumentation. Piano, acoustic guitar and more fuzzy synths are used here to create a dreamy, but dissonant closing the album. Drones wash in like air raid sirens and whilst the drums never take over, they push the tape warped tracks through to the introspective but quietly moving end.
Zola Blood have been my new band discovery for 2017. I really enjoy “Infinite Games” and its one of those albums that you appreciate on first listen with all the hooks, but then it grows on you further each time. This could be my sleeper hit album for the year. Superb.
Recommended Track : Good Love