Postcode boasts an experimental third album with Zebratronic, featuring dynamic duo Mike Daugherty and Marie Reynolds (as well as Steve Halsall, Kieran Ball and Jonny Peacock). With this new showcase of talents, I’m met with electronic overtones alongside a bass guitar. There’s quite a line-up of instruments, like drum machines, synths, guitars that “don’t sound like guitars (and plenty that do)”, screwdrivers, drumsticks, and slide. They are effective in blending the sounds together with all of the appropriate changes from song to song for variation, but I wished for a stronger middle section of the album after a great beginning and a decent end. Without further ado, this is Zebratronic:
‘Be Back Before Dawn’ is the first track on this album and there’s much to be said about the slick, city style of the music. This song isn’t explosively in your face, but demands attention in a subtle way. Halfway through the song, there’s little warning before a blast-off. The vocals remain the same and are unfortunately nearly drowned out by the heavy electronic track. This is a shame because the lyrics are pretty good. Other than a few blips, this is a good way to start the album and familiarize the listener with the style. It’s followed by ‘Losing the Battle’, which starts off as a romp that cruises you along the thought-provoking like, “Born to stand up, / born to stand out”. It also really describes the flow of the band which is unique to other indie bands who release countless amounts of acoustic albums because it’s safe and it doesn’t stay away from what they know. This band takes risks that pay off in the mixes you hear. Even if you aren’t a fan of the result, you have to find the attempt commendable. ‘Losing the Battle’ pumps you up before soothing you into the next song on a single prevailing note.
The next song, ‘Broken’, carries on softer tunes and is placed as the third track on the album which makes it a natural place for the slow song. Many bands do this, but it’s the consistency of style while slightly changing the application that makes it different. Every song sounds alike under the band’s influence, but they don’t sound the same. This song is weepier compared to the others, save for the consistently high sing-song voice and electric guitar perking you up as it guides you through. ‘Pound’ is something you wouldn’t immediately expect to hear on the album. It’s a completely different change of pace from the other songs at the beginning. In stride, it falls into place and loses its special momentum. The lyrics continue to be emotionally titillating.
‘Escape’ continues the theme of applying a different beat but maintaining the same vocals. The lyrics don’t hit me quite as strongly as they once had with the other songs. I found this to be a sleepy, mediocre addition to the album. The style is less electronic with ‘Eternal’, though its influence is still present. It was a refreshing change at the beginning of the song until the electronic base took over more. It carries the same format as the other songs in this middle chunk of the album. The better songs were bundled at the beginning of the record. I’m hoping at this point that Postcode leaves a bang by bundling better songs at the end of the album. I think someone in the sound-editing station went a little over-the-top with the static and some of the other features with the song ‘Blood Ties’. It makes the song a little difficult to listen to and its failure to impress with anything else makes it forgettable.
The only thing that sets ‘Resurrection’ apart is the new degree of blandness that it manages to find itself in. Not even the lyrics – which were once pretty good – can save this track. ‘Epitaph’ is atmospheric and takes a little bit more time to get into the song. However, it struggles to set itself apart. The same could be said about ‘Autumn’ (although the atmosphere this song established sets itself apart more and the vocals are stronger and more enthusiastic). With ‘Dodge City’, the rhythm starts to pick up a bit. I understand that it wouldn’t be a wide range if the band only did songs like this, but it’s nice to hear more songs that awaken the senses. ‘Out of My Mind’ didn’t take the energy that its predecessor did right away. The stagger in its sudden pick-up personifies the nature of intensity that comes from someone who is actually out of their mind. This track and the one before it are the better songs in the later stages of this album.
Some of the instruments play out differently in ‘Leap of Faith’ and the vocals are expressed in a different way. So is this song different from the others? Somewhat – I mean, it does well to alternate with what it’s given but there’s still that undertone that makes it sound like the rest of the album. It isn’t a terrible song though.
Finally, what does a pangolin have to do with love? Beats the hell out of me, but this song, ‘Pangolin’, is easy to lose yourself in. Is it particularly special? Not really, but it has a sleepy tune that could lull that most hardcore of listeners.
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