Following on from their 2009 debut, Tic Toc Tic, The Zolas have returned with their new album, Ancient Mars, to reintroduce their blend of slacker rock and postmodern pop. Stripped at times, without lacking in musicality, its a smart new record from the Canadian duo.
In Heaven kicks the album off with a slow blown cabaret tune that breaks down with a nice mid section guitar freakout followed up by a feedback fuelled end. Sunken sounds mix with well pitched vocals to create a unique indie track.
There’s more of a new-age pop feel to Knot in My Heart, but again it’s the crunching guitar that adds the layers that make it work so well. Ancient Mars is much the same, but with lighter guitar notes and a little funk in the background bass.
Strange Girl is slacker rock funk that keeps up the pace in a light hearted way, and by this point you’ll probably be picking up on comparisons that places Ancient Mars somewhere between Beck and OK Go.
Escape Artist starts out with piano heavy in the mix, which sounds like it could be a good transition, but overall, it’s a little too obvious pop to work as well as earlier tracks. Observatory doesn’t move things on much beyond that of Escape Artist, however, the bass lines and Beach Boys Ohs do a lot to make up for what is a bit of a disappointment after the potential of the album’s beginning.
There’s no significant pick up from here-on-in until we get to Euphrates and Tigris which starts out with a strong guitar hook before wading in with pop intricacies that could have come straight from Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky. Cold Moon takes things down a notch with sweet electro guitar and vocals that give way to a post-modern feel that sounds like a cross between slow-mo Hot Chip and a less transcendental Animal Collective.
The Zolas close out Ancient Mars with Cultured Man, which adds to the postmodern sound-scape that has been built by the brilliant Trailer Trash Tracys, Friends, Django Django and Anna Calvi.
The Zolas, Ancient Mars review: 4/5