Thursday 16 January 2014

Ed Zealous - Wired

Album review by

Sometimes the stimulation is simply too much for one dazzled brain to handle! We all have our tipping points don't we, and for the pre-teen version of yours truly, all it took to trigger a complete collapse of cognitive competence was skipping up to the sliding doors and then poking a toe over the threshold at the land of plenty that is 'Toys "R" Us'!

(Note: Unless a hostile takeover occurred overnight while I was snoozing, The Sound Of Confusion is not owned by, or affiliated to the BBC in anyway and as such we're free to name-drop brands to our hearts content. However, with a nod to a sense of fair play, "other toy stores are available" ...well presumably anyway, I never used any others to be honest... except Daisy and Tom in Manchester once... but that shutdown, so ergo is actually NOT available! Now back to the story...)

Rooted to the spot amidst an aisle of Subbuteo paraphernalia, ears dialled in to the merry "pew pew" of laser guns, and tantalised by the trampolines and the battery powered jeep suspended from the ceiling, I'm afraid this correspondent found the enormity of the occasion somewhat overwhelming. Trying to take in too much in one go was an immediate slippery slope of unwanted side-effects, and while my tongue ceasing to function coherently was manageable through the medium of "pointing at stuff", the moment my saucer-sized eyes began to take on a blurry disposition it was game over and I would be forced to immediately vacate the store, sans either my mental faculties or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle space-hopper.

Having not frequented a toy emporium in recent memory, these bouts of giddy self capitulation have long since become a thing of the past - or at least that was the case up until listening to 'Wired', the debut long-player from excitable Northern Irish indie-electro quartet Ed Zealous, which over the course of its thirty-eight minute duration sees the Belfast boys offer up a senses-spinning, pounding pick-&-mix, from their digital armoury. The outcome is a record that is perhaps somewhat akin to being repeatedly prodded in the face with a toffee apple - a bit full-on, occasionally sickly sweet, definitely disorientating, but ultimately pretty good fun and surprisingly moreish!

So let's drill down more specifically stylistically: 'Wired' kicks about in the same frantic and futuristic playground that in recent years has been the domain of American acts Passion Pit and NTNT, with an abundance of hyperactive drum loops and high voltage synthesizers forming the backbone to the Ed Zealous signature sound. For a snapshot of this modus operandi in full flow, look no further than third track 'Medicines', whose squalling intro precedes four minutes of pulsing electronica that ultimately leaves you wondering if these tablets the doctor prescribed weren’t actually meant for the bloke currently appearing to change shape in the adjacent bed!

Further into the record, lead single 'Diamonds For Eyes' has already drawn accurate comparisons web-wide with the best output from Does It Offend You, Yeah?, while back up top on 'Thanks A Million' it's the latter-day songbook of The Strokes that comes to the fore, in particular in the composition of the track's catchy chorus. It is however 'These Words' that pops up to steal top billing, in no small part part due to its slightly more restrained tempo, and this subtler approach may be one that Ed Zealous could be well served to explore in greater measures on future releases.

With that in mind, and in the interests of balance, there are quibbles here to be found should you be looking for them. Wide variety in tempo and musical direction are not, it would be fair to say, this album's calling card, nor is it lyrically the type of record that will have you hurriedly scrabbling around for your thesaurus in order to decipher some deeply life-affirming poetic prose. In both areas there is room for improvement; however focusing in on these minor flaws feels the equivalent of peering down dark side alleys at the expense of the bright neon lights littering the immediate eye-line - and come on now, where would be the fun in that?!

Bristling with bucket-loads of energy 'Wired' lives up to its title billing well and truly. For some, much like a trip to the toy store, it will just be all too much on first inspection, but keep returning and in time the dizziness can be conquered and the treats awaiting will be brought into sharp focus.

Zealous? Oh you better believe they are!

Ed Zealous' website

'Wired' will be available from February 3rd via Bandcamp

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