Album review

The Zolas 

Ancient Mars

added: 8 Nov 2012 // release date: 3 Dec 2012 // label: Light Organ Records
reviewer: David Spencer

The Zolas - Ancient Mars - Printable version
I am not sure what it is about Canada and music. The country so meanly called boring by so many seems to have an extraordinary ability to produce magical musicians. The Zolas look set to join an abundance of new wave, alternative pop-rock acts that have flourished amidst Canada’s avid music scene - following in the footsteps of the likes of Tegan and Sara, Arcade Fire and Dragonette.

The raw youthful energy that is backed by Vancouver indie label Light Organ Records, who describe themselves as ‘admittedly fresh’, is entirely embodied in the signing of the Zolas and this effortlessly adolescent record.
The Zolas sound is arguably definitive of 2012 alternative pop-rock music, yet it is tricky to pinpoint exactly what that sound is. There is definitely a European influence embedded deep within this record, some tracks echoing the plucky riffs and eloquent vocals of the Friendly Fires, or perhaps the cool punch of French synth-poppers Pheonix.

Whilst cleverly containing all the components of a generic pop record, over and above we are also treated to ample melodious surprises in this generous second album. For some reason the unusual sounds of this postmodern duo are endearing and just work. The dreamy vocals and catchy chords of Zachary Gray paralleled by Tom Dobrzanski’s poppy piano gather as a truly satisfying dose of nostalgia and reminiscence.

The album captures the memories and romanticism associated with youth – taking us on a melodic journey from the glitch shoegaze of Ancient Mars to the grungy high-school-love-story inspired Strange Girl, to the positively Oasis-esque Euphrates and Tigris, right through to the minimalistic melancholy and wistful lyrics of Cold Moon (a real climatic highlight of the record).

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3 stars

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