When they’re paying their dues with R&B standbys, I just hear the competition. They don’t rave like The Yardbirds or combust like The Animals, and attempts at a Jagger come much closer to the junior Davies. Only Argent’s soft-footed keys stick to the ribs, but I’d rather have them in an equally ethereal context—what The Zombies excel at, in other words.
Seriously, is there any contemporary equivalent to “She’s Not There”? That’s an honest question, because I’d love more of its ghostly introspection. Until then, some of the the other originals serve admirably, with “I Can’t Make Up My Mind” acting as an artist statement fit for kings. Though since the Invasion hill is plenty full, they best find a more suitable kingdom to rule.
Half of me wonders if their vocal blend is sublime enough to warrant such spare arrangements—a minor worry, admittedly, considering the abundance of adorable backing bips and tweets. That leanness pays dividends, though, as it suggests the baroque while staying loose enough for drum/bass airs approaching proto-prog (“Brief Candles”). Maybe.
What’s more certain: Odessey and Oracle advances a compelling argument for optimism. Even if your love’s in jail, just ride out the storm on some Mellotron until the sunny melody carries you through. Plus, the group is equally buoyant in their links to the past (“Beechwood Park”)—reason to prefer trips there than to the hermetic Village Green.
On the bright side, this isn’t completely their fault; turgid synths and drums were everywhere at the dawn of the 90s. But without Argent, there’s absolutely nothing steering this out of the coldest professionalism, where staying a focused listener becomes a heroic feat as anonymity bleeds into oblivion.
Wasn’t Argent supposed to spice things up? Judging by the antiseptic production and overwhelming number of pianoing, MOR schlock, I guess not.
Cause for celebration: “Another Day” and “Any Other Way” are the first two worthwhile Zombies tunes in over four decades. There are hooks, fresh chord changes, and vivid organ, all of which manage to puncture another stifling production.
Otherwise, Breathe Out doesn’t impress so much as placate, with creaky vocals battling respectable solos and a few rooted rhythms in an effort to recoup any trust dashed by previous reunions. And, expected staleness aside, they could have done a lot worse.