coverIf you chose to see 2014’s Business in the Front, Party in the Back as a mission statement, that pop-punk can be cleverer and more demanding of itself, then you will also see Iktelan as nothing short of delivering on the promises laid down in that declaration. And although the beats and grooves of what that genre does best, do raise their head from time to time, it does so seemingly only to rip the torch from the beer-soaked hands of the stereotypical image of a skateboarding American man-children in big shorts. Having done so it then wanders off to explore some wonderful new musical territory and that is where the fun really starts.

At its most boisterous the album still uses the primary colours and cartoon effects of the punk oeuvre to paint its soundscapes, but it is when they subtly wash and blend those hues, employ the light and shade of alt-rock, the pay off of pop sensibilities and the accessibility of slick rock melody, that they really start shaping their own world. And what a great world it is, one of high-jinx and high drama, broad strokes and fine detail, staccato punches and fluid movements. Just consider how many generic hops there are between the bounce and groove of Moving Ridge and the plaintive piano that cocoons Boy Named Crow to see how far they are prepared to venture musically.

Whilst many sections of the rock establishment are content to build ever tighter generic constraints around themselves (come on metallers, 259 sub-genres is surely enough, stop it!) Zoo Harmonics fully embrace the post-genre ethic. “It’s all rock and roll to me” may be a cliché, but clichés exist for a reason, they exist because they carry some underlying truth. Once you understand that, and these guys really understand that, then the making music becomes a wild, rewarding and (best of all) unrestricted playground.

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