I’ve done it again. Judging books, or in this case debut e.p.s, by their covers. There is nothing wrong with the cover at all, but I have to admit that it did suggest to me just another perky-popster following the same old chart-focused templates. How wrong I was. For although there is an element of that in Zone Out, taken as a whole the music is smarter than that, much smarter than that indeed. Smart enough to wrap its modernity in a wonderful, classic sounded create a sound which is both fresh and yet familiar.
So, whilst there is very much a contemporary vibe to the songs found here, as soon as Blue Skies kicks into gear you immediately hear the echo of 60’s girl groups, chamber pop walls of sound and doo-wop harmonies in its sweeping strings and, lush and innocent vocals. But one song does not an e.p. make and this is more than just a nod to the past. Nightmares is a wonderful and wonderfully strange slice of slow and tense pop-rock and Head in the Clouds skirts the sort of territory that the likes of K T Tunstall made her own way back when, only with some strange electronic squiggles thrown in for good measure.
And sat in the middle of it all, the sonic eye in this sweet, pop storm is the Joni Mitchell-esque Shooting Daisies, a poignant acoustic ballad featuring the brilliant line “a general’s not a general if we all walk away.” How very true, how very relevant to the modern world of blind faith politics.
So, what have we learned? Don’t jump to conclusions based on album covers. Pop music still has something to say. Not every new artist favours style over substance. Oh, and more importantly, I have learned that you should all go out and buy this brilliant musical calling card right away.