Release Date: Aug 29, 2014
Record label: Embassy One
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Alternative Dance
No strangers to retro futurism, Zoot Woman have combined '70s soft rock and '80s synth pop with more contemporary and cutting-edge sounds since the Living in a Magazine days. It's an approach that may have reached its peak with 2009's aptly named Things Are What They Used to Be, an album equally indebted to New Romantic's swooning synths, electroclash's hard-edged beats, and chillwave's blasé pop. Five years on, Star Climbing makes it hard to tell whether the rest of the music scene has caught up with Zoot Woman, or vice-versa.
In the 1971 cult classic film Harold and Maude, Ruth Gordon’s life-affirming, septuagenarian character Maude utters the phrase, “The earth is my body, my head is in the stars. ” Following the brilliant Things Are What They Used To Be, one wishes the somewhat pedestrian songs on British electro-pop trio Zoot Woman’s fourth album Star Climbing were as celestial bound as Maude’s poetic expression. While it may seem slightly random that a quote from a 43 year old movie would spring to mind when analyzing a synth pop album in 2014, the history of cinema has as much an influence on pop culture and the critical mind as the Top 40 hits and obscure musical gems that define the sound of decades past.
Stuart Price has built a stellar career as producer for the big-name likes of Madonna and The Killers. It’s somewhat baffling then, that he continues to make records with Zoot Woman, the band he formed in 1995, unless he’s keen to assert the Reading trio’s formative role in electropop, or hates money. His production work on this fourth album adds a brittle EDM crunch to their formula, but lacks enough choruses ripped from the candy-curled fingernails of the Pet Shop Boys to stop the likes of ‘Chemistry’ and ‘Real Real Love’ sounding painfully dated beside Jungle, La Roux or even Daft Punk.