In case you’re the last person in the world to hear about these things… the new Zero7 album is out. I don’t think this one got quite as much hype as The Garden, which is a shame, because to my ears, Yeah Ghost is a much more interesting offering. The Garden was one of those albums I loved eventually, mostly out of brand loyalty. But I digress.
I was a little bit worried about listening to Yeah Ghost, because reviewers were saying that it was a radical departure, and that musically it was “scattered all over the place” and had no cohesion. Personally, I think it holds together just fine. More to the point, it is radically different, while still managing to be undeniably Zero7. It’s difficult to accomplish “completely different” and “still the same” simultaneously. I think they did a pretty good job with both, and the reconciliation of those two apparent opposites in the context of a 45-minute record is nothing short of inspired.
I cannot say that I am absolutely in love with Yeah Ghost yet (aside from “Mr. McGee,” a song which I had on repeat for about six hours yesterday). But as mentioned above, I wasn’t in love with The Garden at first, either, and in any case I already like Yeah Ghost better than I ever liked The Garden, despite the fact that there’s no Sia Furler this time around (my obsession with her is well-known, but she makes her own albums now, so I get my fix there). My relationship with The Garden is of the variety that when you make the commitment to love someone, you even love the worst things about them, because that comes with the package. Yeah Ghost has been a pleasant surprise by comparison.
Murakami would have told you so
If you catch him, will you let me know?
Bobbing apples in the studio
This put a huge smile on my face, but then when I Googled “Murakami would have told you,” I discovered that the BBC reviewer singled that verse out as cringingly embarrassing proof that this album is mostly crap. Guess he’s not a fan of surreal imagery. He also went on to say that he thought maybe Zero7’s time had passed, but I absolutely don’t buy that. This album is quite a step up from the last one (but admittedly nothing will ever touch the first two). Also, I disagree with the assessment that Yeah Ghost is stuck in the late ’90s. I don’t hear any evidence to support that at all. Most of the production technique on this album wasn’t even possible ten years ago, and the musical style reflects that, as well. All I hear is fresh, fresh, fresh. And if there’s a little Basement Jaxx nostalgia sprinkled over certain areas, I’m willing to bet it was not only intentional, it was firmly tongue-in-cheek. For me, it only adds to the charm, because Zero7 is one of those groups who has always managed to manipulate me into thinking about the good ol’ days, regardless of how modern their range of styles can be.
As with any significant change, Yeah Ghost will take some getting used to. I’m okay with that, especially since the change is distinctly in the electronica direction. I think a lot of the naysayers either (A) will come around eventually, or (B) are only into the modern-Muzak aspect of Zero7, and aren’t interested in innovation. You can’t please all the people all the time, but I do think there’s something on Yeah Ghost for just about everyone.
And hey, the new Air album is out next month, so we might still get our Muzak after all.