There's something to be said for bands where meaning isn't as important
as just sounding cool. They get a pass from having to make sense because
they strive to simply have lyrics that sound like they're saying something,
but are really just there to allow the vocalist to have something
to sing. Electric Six is one of these bands, admitting themselves
that most of their songs are about nothing. So, do the songs on Zodiac,
the band's latest album, deliver on being fun party songs?
Sort of, a little, some of them, sure. The biggest problem with the
album is that many of the songs lack a really strong hook, so they
tend to run together. After listening to the album several times,
you'd think it would be easier to recall the melodies to such songs
as "Countdown To The Countdown," "Jam It In The Hole,"
or "It Ain't Punk Rock"; but these songs just play and are
then forgotten about. That's not to say every song has this problem,
there are a couple that are quite good, so let's start with those.
"American Cheese" is a lot of fun, as there are faux-political
metaphors over a pounding beat. It's almost as though the song was
written as a parody of political anthems, as it's worded in such a
way that the hook, "I make my living in American cheese,"
sounds like it means more than it does. It makes for a beat that will
have anyone dancing, with some nice guitar solos thrown in for good
measure. "Clusterfuck!" has a more stop-start musical background
as lead singer Tyler Spencer, a.k.a. Dick Valentine,
uses a simple rhyming pattern to drive things along to the hook. The
melody here is probably the most singable on the album and will have
most listeners singing along by the end of it. "After Hours"
is also fairly catchy, but it doesn't stand out as much aside from
the repetition of the title.
The rest of the album suffers from the hooks not being quite strong
enough to carry whole songs. The aforementioned "Jam It In The
Hole" is a good example of this. It's not a bad song; the beat
is fun and easygoing, managing to keep a light breezy feel, while
keeping a little bit of an edge. But there isn't any real lyrical
hook to the song. This is a problem since the music doesn't have any
hook either. There is nothing, then, to make the song really stick
in the listener's mind. This means that once the song is finished,
it's harder to remember how it went. "It Ain't Punk Rock"
suffers the same problem. Even though there are more memorable music
and lyrics, the song doesn't feel really cohesive and when it transitions
to other sections there is a bit of awkwardness. The hook subsequently
gets lost in the shuffle because of the meandering... which isn't
at all punk rock, though that may have been the point.
This album is a tough one on which to form a final thought. While
it is fun and listeners aren't likely to be bored, the lack of strong
hooks on many of the songs will make the album a forgettable experience.
In the end, it's a decent album which will probably satisfy fans even
if it doesn't win the band any new ones.
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