Wednesday, July 9, 2008

“It's all happening at the Zoos …”

Posted By on Wed, Jul 9, 2008 at 12:00 AM

The Zoos of Berlin are a rare breed of band. They've come on like a quiet storm, sneaking their way into the very epicenter of Detroit's music scene by (gasp!) taking their damn sweet time writing these swelling and artful songs, getting tight as an ensemble, using their energy to create and connect and putting on great shows. You know: the old-fashioned way.

This three-song EP has been available at their live shows for a little while now, and if you've seen Zoos live, then you know that they are made to mesmerize. The tracks here capture the sound of what it's like to be Bright Young Things. "Below the Old House" is a swell piece of indie-rhythm-rock, with deft, mirror-image synth lines and guitar chops that push and pull at the song's alternately dreamy and groovy momentum shifts. Resorting to a cheap critic equation using top line references, let's just pretend that David Bowie, the Inspiral Carpets, Pavement and My Bloody Valentine all got in a room and laid their favorite licks on the table. Then the Zoos kids came and picked what they liked and made jams from the leavings.

"Speak Well of Manderlay" is a simply grand sketch itching to burst out into full-blown oil-on-canvas portraiture. Nostalgic and tense, with a momentum that hurtles, twirling toward a hushed and meditative conclusion, it's an enunciated and fevered thing of beauty. "On Large Amusements" closes the short set with a piece of moody ambience that would give further credence to the connection between Manchester and Detroit — except in this case we'd be talkin' Manchester circa 1979 awash in watercolor and high on the fleeting hope for happiness.

There just isn't anything typical about Zoos. C'mon! Any band that uses their thanks to give props to electronic guru Carl Craig, Bo House main man Joel Peterson and their Suburban Sprawl Westside indie rock cohort Zach Curd straddles a lotta fences. And that's a damn fine thing, much like this tease of an EP. And, yes, it's a tease, but it's a dazzling tease nonetheless.

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