Under Review: Zero 7 – Yeah Ghost

For their fourth LP, electronic duo Zero 7 approaches a bold and tumultuous new frontier: straight-up pop music.  Not that Yeah Ghost completely leaves behind all of the downtempo charm of its predecessors, but the songs on the album find the group much peppier than ever before.  Perhaps the shift comes due in part to the presence of vocalist Eska Mtungwazi, whose soulful wail is a far cry from the whisper of previous Zero 7 collaborator Sia Furler.  Eska’s voice drives songs like the Motown-y “Medicine Man” and “Mr. McGee,” which samples and stutters her vocals into a catchy, nagging tic.  Prior to recording Yeah Ghost, Zero 7 dabbled in experimental and instrumental music under assumed names.  Those tendencies seem to have seeped into the sessions for Yeah Ghost, as “Ghost Symbol” features some eerily slowed-down vocals and closer “All Of Us” evokes Kraftwerk at the most minimal.  Still, it’s surprising how song-based rather than texture-based this new album is.  Given previous efforts like their chilly debut, Simple Things, or their (as of now) masterpiece, The Garden, the songs on Yeah Ghost sound enough like Zero 7 without sounding too much like Zero 7.  This project is meant to morph, flow and transform.  With Yeah Ghost, Zero 7 show that they’re more than just hazy synths and breathy vocalists (allo, Air?), but that they’re a powerhouse production team in constant search.  Whether or not they’ll find what they’re looking for is unimportant.  What matters is that they keep making lovely, eclectic, enjoyable records like this along the way.

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~ by E. on October 2, 2009.

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