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When It Falls

Zero 7

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Album Review

Downbeat acts proceed down the middle of the road at their own peril. While such a path may guarantee them a lucrative career in Starbucks outlets and on crossover compilations, the onset of advanced musicianship and mature songwriting often comes at the expense of artistic ability (see the steady downward fall of Groove Armada for an example). Zero 7, one of the few acts following in the wake of Air that had the talent to match, debuted with a record (Simple Things) that featured some of the warmest, most mellifluous tracks heard in electronic music since Moon Safari. When It Falls, their second record, finds the duo largely sticking to the same formula, with all the sinewy basslines and languorous vocals that follow along. As before, Zero 7 is more of a band than most downbeat acts, with credits for bass, guitar, and drums plus keyboards, brass, flute, and strings. Much of the record is nearly perfect downbeat, and the productions of Zero 7 main men Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns mesh perfectly with the instrumentation — so well, in fact, that the record threatens to sink into a nether region of pop music that's both flawless and harmless, more adult alternative than electronic pop. There's nothing wrong with that prospect, but when a downbeat act begins to emulate a pop act, the situation practically demands developed songs and tighter hooks. Unfortunately, only a few tracks here meet those criteria. Fortunately, though, they are beautiful indeed. On "Home," new addition Tina Dico summons the downy, pastoral yearning that's become de rigueur for downbeat female vocalists, and the returning Sia Furler shines on a track ("Somersault") that's simultaneously spacy and down-home. Sophie Barker, the star of Simple Things' "Destiny," returns for "In Time," one of the sweetest tracks Zero 7 has ever produced. The rest of the record, however, possesses very few of the unburnished edges needed by albums with character or personality. When It Falls reaches a nadir of sorts on "The Space Between," a pleasant song that unfortunately descends into self-parody over the course of its six minutes — two minutes of which are taken up by an overripe harmonica solo.

Customer Reviews

Just incredible

I love this group. Everything they do is so spot on (to use the parlance of our times). I loved Simple Things--it's in the top 5 of all albums of all times for me--but When It Falls is such a close second (for Zero 7, and in the top ten of all time albums--but then again I like downtempo--or whatever you want to call it!). Passing By is one of the most incredible songs I've ever heard in that it succinctly explains the minor heart break of a relationship that is not clicking. Just beautiful. Sophie Baker is incredible (but you already know that if are a zero 7 fan). So while I'd rate Simple Things a 6 on a 5 star system, this album is a 5.9. And no better sophmore debute from any other band, incredible follow up. There you have it.

Zero 7 - you must hear this!

Just when the music industry seems lost and over comercialized, a band of true talent springs out! Zero 7 breaks the mold with using not just one voice, but several lead singers, creative melodies, relaxing beats, and soulful lyrics. Listen to one song and you will want to hear them all. Enjoy!

Groovy man. . . .

Got home from a long day of work, was checking out some tunes w/in the "Just For You" (beta) feature, and ran across these guys. Zero 7 hit the spot that so many electronic "chillout" wanna-be's miss. In fact, like the iTunes review says, this album is almost "pop" w/ all the vocals on a majority of the tracks, and that's its strength. The vocals fit in perfect w/ the musical mix, and above all create that “chillout” mood. The down-tempo beats lower your blood pressure, and magically raises the stiff drink to your lips at the end of your day. Like "Jack Daniels Single Barrel" its good stuff!

Biography

Formed: 1997 in London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The men behind the European downtempo outfit Zero 7 — producers Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker — launched their careers in the music industry as tea boys at a London recording studio. Shortly thereafter, however, both were in the thick of action, working alongside a string of well-known British musicians such as the Pet Shop Boys and Robert Plant. They spent the best part of the '90s honing their production skills behind the scenes....
Full Bio
When It Falls, Zero 7
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