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The Zolas Come Back To Life | Northern Transmissions
It has been years since NME has splashed “Blur Vs Oasis” on the cover of their magazine and, in the interim, there hasn’t been a band that has decided to pick up the torch thrown down by that generation’s vaunted sound. Now, fast forward a couple decades later, to the somewhat beautiful but listless city of Vancouver BC, a group has deemed to grab that torch and completely make it their own. The Zolas have been a major player on Canadian stages since 2009, but with their new album, Come Back to Life, the group revitalizes themselves with their twisted take on an old standby. The definition of “Britpop” is as fluid as they come.
Based on the sounds of 80s post punk, acid house, classic rock and electronica, the genre definition is as loose as possible, but The Zolas have grabbed onto it and have made an album that simultaneously celebrates it, while completely dismantling it. The band has never sounded more alive than they do here. From the spaced out synths of opener “Violence On This Planet” to the Stone Roses-esque baggy beat of “I Feel The Transition,” the group sounds fresh and funky and more relevant than Black Grape or Mansun ever could’ve been.
Come Back To Life hits right off the top with “Violence On This Planet” and it’s warped out Madchester intro. Let it be known though that this isn’t strictly a genre exercise, Zachary Gray and the band are smarter than that and pack a ton of gravitas into their lyrical content. The band tackles this country’s appalling treatment of First Nations people in the track “Wreck Beach/Totem Pole” to their cities’ own wealth disparity in “Bombs Away” making this album full of as much sincerity as hooks. Throughout the album, the group showcases its effortless songwriting prowess. These are clearly very accomplished and creative individuals and it’s a treat to hear how these songs unfold. “Energy Czar” kicks off with a looped out beat before sinking into an easy groove with an absolute earworm of a chorus before a synth-y bridge hits that feels fresh out of a Moroder soundtrack.
With all the heaviness in the world these days The Zolas don’t shy away from heavy stuff on Come Back To Life it but rather reframe it into something that you can settle into, while still keeping the proceedings sharp and insightful. It’s rare that a band would change things up so drastically four albums deep into their career but it’s refreshing to hear The Zolas embrace the idea that they are at a point where they can do what they please. Especially when that point is so self assured and more real than any band rivalry could have possibly ever been.