Album review: Zebra & Giraffe - 'The Wisest Ones'
Since their first album, Zebra & Giraffe have evolved in many different ways – band-wise and musically.
Collected Memories was a youthfully enchanting album, full of life, nostalgia, anger regret, infatuation and all those things from one’s early 20s. And frontman Greg Carlin did it on his own.
Come album number two, The Inside was a kind of awkward transition between the angsty, self-important indie kid and a full five-piece band with its own organic sound, rather than the precision of one musical genius.
Now, The Wisest Ones seems to have given Zebra & Giraffe a more consistent sound and now, with their three-piece set up of guitar icon Alan Shenton and madman Mike Wright, the band is ready to come into their own.
I can’t really pinpoint what it is that makes this album magical, but it just is. It has this kind of melodious glow surrounding each song, which sucks you in to not only Carlin’s masterful, passionate lyrics, but the trio’s talent for making music that moves.
All I Gave is a good opening. Even though it begins almost like Isochronous with Alex Parker-esqe keyboard, it’s not a bad thing.
After that, the gates of hell open up unleashing larger-than-life sounds that engulf you and make you wonder how the bloody hell can all this be created by just three people.
The two ex-members – as much as the people themselves are missed – are not really all that missed on the album. Sorry dudes.
Though I do feel some songs could do with former drummer Darren Leader’s meticulous beats resonating from a full-sounding drum kit.
I’ll Blame You is the most radio-friendly and kicks back to the sound from The Inside, and My Best, Yesterday and Fire smacks of Collected Memories, but Sons brings it back to the present and kicks you in the teeth with acid lyrics and beautiful guitar surrounding bitter-sounding vocals.
Little Black Book is a gorgeous coming together of instruments, where the drums are actually noticeable. It’s by far my favourite. Whores, Liars follows the same vein, but isn’t as classy.
You’re Nothing to Me is a slow but strong end, closing the album with raw guitar and crashing cymbals.
Musically, I think Zebra & Giraffe have found themselves. After years of what seemed like endless uncertainty, Carlin, Shenton and Wright have found just the right concoction.
Carlin has grown up quite a lot since that first album. And it seems he’s incensed by a different sort of rage. Something almost sinister.
I was waiting for something to surpass Collected Memories and something has done just that.
The Wisest Ones is quite simply Zebra & Giraffe’s best album yet.