on 9 May 2001
Zero 7 ARE very much like Air - and I kick myself for repeating what everybody else has said.
But, I have more to add: for the first half of the album I reckon they actually top their chilled-out, Frenchie counterparts.
The album's very much like Moon Safari, but with more basslines, beats, twists and turns. The first track is a classic, starting with a great bassline. And it carries on much the same, with tracks much more varied (I think) than the Air LP.
The album did start to lose my attention towards the end, however (hence the 4 stars rather than 5). But this perhaps just shows that I've spent too much time listening to the first few cool tracks.
So, if you are an Air fan, we've all establised you'll definitely like this. If you are not an Air fan, or have not sampled them already, give it a whirl. It's certainly good medicine following a hard day in the office.
on 8 May 2003
I can honestly say that the debut album “Simple Things” from Zero 7 is without doubt the most treasured in my collection. It’s sultry, smooth and ultra chilled, just right for those lazy summer days.
Having heard a couple of their songs on various chillout compilations, I decided to order the album and I can say that it more than met my expectations of them. The album produces a variety of different styles from jazz to soul to trip-hop and their is a great balance between the number of instrumental and vocal tracks.
The standout tracks for me are the catchy bass lines and beautiful background melodies of “Polaris”, the smooth flowing and dreamy guitar cords of “Give It Away” and the excellent vocals and slow moving rhythm of “In The Waiting Line”. To be honest, though, every track has something different to offer and it is an album that I can listen to all day and never get bored of. It’s a very poignant album and I’m not embarrassed to say that it sometimes makes me feel quite emotional when listening to it, such is the excellence of the album.
The superb vocals of Sia Furler and Sophie Barker further immerse you in Zero 7s unique brand of cool, sexy, downtempo music and leave a lasting impression on you and a tingle down your spine.
All in all, this is a brilliantly produced and well crafted debut album from a duo who don’t necessarily get the attention they thoroughly deserve for creating such a musical masterpiece. If your looking for an album that is refreshing, relaxing and let’s you unwind at the end of a long day, then you can’t go wrong with “Simple Things”.
on 17 May 2001
I felt I had to post a review after so many of the others on this page have, I feel, missed the point or failed to do justice to this magnificent album. The Air comparisons miss the point entirely - (though if you enjoyed it, you probably would love this album) - this is a true soul album in a luscious downtempo style. Their range is quite astonishing, from beautiful soulful songs of loss and hope - This World is without doubt one of THE best songs I have ever heard - a truly great and moving soul ballad. Likufunele reaches the same soulful peak while sampling an African woman's choir and the instrumental Give It Away swoops majestically. Much as I enjoyed Air's 'Moon Safari', 'Simple Things' is on another level of greatness to that album, it satisfies on every level - the lyrics are continually inspiring and the strings and chords satisfy the soul.
Better than Air, believe the hype.
on 27 May 2001
I bought this album four weeks ago on the strength of "In the Waiting Line" which was part of a promo sample CD and I was not disappointed : Each track is a masterpiece of vocal and instrumental elegance :"Polaris", "Give It Away", "This World", "Distractions", and "Destiny" (the latter two benefitting from the truly remarkable voice of Sia Furler) are perfect examples of a successful fusion of chill-out and pop. But the most haunting piece must be "Red Dust" a dark and moody yet uplifting instrumental combining the best of Brazilian Bossa and 60's film music Morricone style with cutting edge contemporary production. Although the AIR comparisons are sometimes unavoidable as in "Polaris" or "Give It Away", they are never overwhelming. All in all, a must buy.
on 29 May 2001
Right - let's get one thing straight. Zero 7 are no Air: all these comparisons are getting silly. Fine, some of the tracks do sound like they could have been lifted off Moon Safari, but could you see Zero 7 running about with t-shirt wearing monkey puppets or Volkswagen Camper vans with wings on them? No, I thought not.
And in this lies the key. With Air, despite the brilliance of Moon Safari (which I don't think anyone who likes this album could deny), there is always a certain kitsch value attached. Maybe it's because they come from the same land as Serge Gainsbourg and the like - I don't know. But there is NO WAY you could attribute the same values to any of the songs on Simple Things.
And that's because Zero 7 have produced perhaps the best document of British multiculturalist dance music since Massive Attack's Blue Lines a decade earlier. Yes, it's THAT GOOD.
Yes, I know it's the summer and any hyperbole that may have been in that last statement may have been a result of the hot weather, but I truly believe that there is something magical going on with this album. And this is why - despite the songs being, like those on Moon Safari, perfect 'background' music for middle-class dinner parties or country house BBQs, closer inspection reveals the tracks on Simple Things to be more ethereal, spiritual and eternal. Try telling me you can listen to the sumptious harmonies on Destiny and not be stirred so much that you start to tingle. There. See my point?
Because here you have songs that are not only pleasant to listen to, but also demand listener interaction. Fine, this may sound a bit analytical for an Amazon review, but in Destiny, In The Waiting Line and I Have Seen you have three tracks which easily match, if not better, Unfinished Sympathy. Preposterous I hear you cry, but no - see, like Massive Attack's best known song, these tunes have beauty AND power, as well as the uncanny knack of making you click your fingers fervently in time.
Add these to acoustic instrumental scores such as Give It Away (easily as good as anything on Moon Safari) and Red Dust and you have not only your perfect summer soundtrack, but also the best album this Millennium so far.
on 25 December 2003
Zero 7 are producers Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker of north London. Having forged their early careers working with a host of British artists including the Pet Shop Boys and New Order, they spent much of the 90's honing their production skills behind the scenes.
Following a great remix of Radiohead's 'Climbing the Walls', they then released this amazing debut album 'Simple Things' in mid-2001. I did not discover this until hearing the title track Simple Things on a mix album by Gilles Peterson, and it immediately caught my attention.
The production quality of this, a debut album, is simply astounding. The sound is a delicious blend of Air, Royksoop, Lemon Jelly and Bent - electronica with elements of everything from jazz, soul and funk to trip-hop and ambient techno.
I have been listening to the album for several months now and still its appeal has not waned - indeed several of the 'grower' tracks on the album (eg Give It Away and Out Of Town) have taken over from the single material such as I Have Seen, Destiny and In The Waiting Line.
The album starts with the tingling vocals of Mozez on I Have Seen, and blends the next hour into a cohesive set that rarely leaves the listener anything less than engrossed. Zero 7 also introduce a couple of other excellent vocalists in Sia Furler, and Sophie Barker (both of whom feature together in the excellent Destiny), and who match the mood and sound of the album perfectly.
A truly special album, Simple Things is a delicious blend of ambient electronica that I cannot recommend highly enough. One last piece of advice - pick up the version with 2 bonus tracks (the excellent Salt Water Sound and Spinning).
Oh and if you like this, you will be interested to know that Zero 7's second album is due in March 2004.
on 18 May 2001
I saw this album on a listening stand in a record shop and thought what a cool cover. So curious about the cover I thought well why not take a listen. I am quite glad that I did. This album is so chilled but also so fresh; it has hints of jazz, house, and some world-beat music thrown in.
The opening tracks (1-4) are a great selection to open with and are definitely the foundations to the album(I probably haven't heard a better start to an album for quite a while now). Unfortunately these tracks probably include the two stand out tracks of the album Destiny(3) and Give It Away(4) which is very reminiscent of Air (the French band).
The album does start to meander after this but is still definitely worth a listen just to hear the beautiful In the Waiting Line(8) and the African inspired Likufanele(11).
This album could fit into anyone's life. It is perfect for the big chill out after a hard night on the town. But is equally at home if you just want to unwind with a bottle of vino on the couch after a hard day at work. The album cannot decide which you are but it certainly can respond to both scenario's.
on 24 August 2002
Zero Seven's debut album has to be one of the most genuinely relaxing albums of the past 2 years. Electronic soundscapes dominate, although I reckon comparisons with Air are only partially justified. Zero Seven has less 80's synth, more of a jazzy edge and there seems to be a consistency in style throughout this album that I think is missing from Air's offerings (not wanting to complain about Air's considerable talents, mind you).
The tempo is slow paced throughout the album and although the music is predominantly electronic, we do see a range of 'normal' instruments (guitars, strings +brass) making occasional but welcome appearances. The vocals sound effortless and the lyrics serve to compliment the overall mood of the album well. Sophie Barker's trance-inducing performance in 'in the waiting line' particulaly stands out. Hearing this track once on the radio was incentive enough for me to buy the album and I haven't regretted it.
So, if you like Air's 'Moon Safari', Massive Attack's 'Blue lines' or you simply want to collapse in a comfy chair and need an album to unwind to - you need some 'simple things'in your life.
on 27 September 2001
Let's get this straight, this is an amazing album. I think pretty much anyone could enjoy it, except maybe the diehard metal fans but then everyone has an opinion. Before I bought it, my favourite track was Destiny, which I heard in the car while driving through London, but now I don't know which I like best. I Have Seen, Destiny, Give It Away, Red Dust, Distractions, In The Waiting line and This World are the best songs, I know that is nearly all but that is what I am saying, this album is superb.
The two tracks I feel stray away from the overall sound of the album are Out Of Town and End Theme. That is not to say they are bad songs but I feel they don't quite fit on this album. But don't stop you from getting it. It is a must, I really mean that.
Oh and the Air comparison... who are Air?
on 5 June 2001
Quite simply the best album of the year, and one of the best debut albums ever to be released. Worth buying for the tracks Destiny and In the waiting line alone. The two female and one male guest vocalists truly shine, and use interesting lyrics accompanying simple sounding yet intricate arrangements. Musically this is a engrossing piece of work that rates alongside Massive Attacks' "Blue Lines". The Comparisons with Air are understandable, however Zero 7 are less obsessed with 70's cheesy keyboard sounds and have a Jazz edge which eludes the french duo. In Short, buy this or live an unfulfilled life.