Zulu Winter have a rum old history, with two of them doing time in a tribute band called The Next Pistols (oh dear). After banging around together since they were 15, they eventually coalesced in London, formed into a band-shaped proposition last year and signed to the legendary Fierce Panda label for a few singles – which, as all indie scholars know, didn’t harm Coldplay, Ash or Supergrass.
They subsequently caused a signing frenzy after playing with the likes of The Horrors and Friendly Fires; more recently they tasted the larger domes with Keane. Now, armed with a host of music press accolades tipping them as the next big thing, it seems like nothing’s going to stop their trajectory.
They certainly talk a refreshingly good talk, dropping references to T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and Moog pioneer Dick Hyman. Online, their blog discusses a new production of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, 19th century French literary journal La Revue Blanche and classic 70s British horror, The Shout. Basically, you know you’re not dealing with The Enemy.
Tracks like Silver Tongue find splashy dynamics swooping about in a style not too dissimilar to Coldplay. In fact, Will Daunt’s voice occasionally has the double-tracked nuances of Chris Martin on this set’s largest choruses. Let’s Move Back to Front brings to mind Geneva, and there are also hints of James and Keane beside several other acts that have done quite well in the recent past.
Zulu Winter’s problem – if it is such a thing – is that while they’re very good at what they do, they fall short of establishing a unique identity. Accomplished though this album is, it throws up perhaps too many parallels with preceding outfits – although, in its makers’ defence, the same can be said of many bands’ debuts. Given a chance to grow, they could outstrip the source material and create something truly magnificent.
That said, Language is a sturdy and well-produced collection which, given the right exposure, sounds like the sort of thing that could be very large indeed. You never know: by cribbing from identifiable influences, this five-piece might well be creating their own Zulu Nation.
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