Zoot Woman is a trio consisting of brothers Adam and Johnny Blake, and Stuart Price (a.k.a. Jacques Lu Cont), who along with Nik Kershaw, was Les Rythmes Digitales.
'Zoot Woman' is the second album by this band, following up the 2001 record 'Living In a Magazine,' also released on Wall Of Sound.
Between the two albums, Stuart Price has had a high profile. A Jacques Lu Cont Fabric compilation was released, and his association with Madonna brought him into huge arenas. He is her music director on tour, and did several remixes for her as The Thin White Duke, and under his own name, as on the American Life single. The new Zoot Woman seems to bring lots of good energy from his recent success into the mix. The sound of Zoot Woman is pure 80s - probably too much so for many folks.
The album's first single Grey Day is a really fine track. It is the cut I would play to anyone I wanted to turn this album onto. Johnny Blake's voice keeps the sound firmly in the 80s, but the cool bass sound brings to mind everything from Pere Ubu to electroclash.
Anyone looking to find reasons to knock 'Zoot Woman' will easily find all the ammo they need. the disc was very expensive here in the US, the length of the disc is short (39 minutes), and there are a few tracks that may remind you of male artists from the 80s that you never listened to and can't quite remember the names of, like John Waite, who fronted Bad English. But 6 of the 10 tracks are winners in my book. I really like this record a bunch.
- Grey Day Everything you read will tell you this is the best Zoot Woman tracks yet. The cut has all the right pieces in all the right place. It reminds me of A Flock Of Seagulls at their peak.
- Taken It All Currently my favorite track on the disc, Taken It All has the same type of smaltzy appeal as The Style Council.
- Gem My favorite thing about the track is a bass hook that happens 1:12 into the track. I also like the lead bass playing later on in the track. At around 2:20 there is a dirty electronic part that you would never have heard on the first Zoot Woman record. The band has definitely gotten it together this time around.
- Hope In The Mirror Vocalist Johnny blake has said that his favorite bands are Depeche Mode and The Police. The vocals in this song remind me of The Police. the music is great. No guitars, just a killer drum and fat bass, with keyboard.
- Snow White From the start with the picked guitar, this has the sound I was mocking when I made the Bad English reference at the start of this review. Not a bad track, just grandiose and proggy.
- Woman Wonder This track reminds me the most of songs from the 'Living In A Magazine' record. I don't like the keyboard sound, though I by no means hate the track.
- Calmer An instrumental that I quite like! It has a psychedelic feel, from the tremolo on the bass to the looping horn-like effect in the start, to the sweeping sound as it progresses.
- Useless Anyway Currently my second favorite track on the disc. Where Hope In The Mirror had vocals that reminded me of The Police, Useless Anyway has music that reminds me of that band, particularly the Andy Summers styled guitar. As the song goes on it develops a feel that reminds me of The Jam Funeral Pyre, again, in the crashing guitar. A very killer track.
- Maybe Say Another song like Gem or Snow White - tracks reminding me of other 80s artists that had success around the same time as hair metal, but were more adult oriented. It is Johnny Blake's voice that makes me think of this comparison.
- Half Full Of Happiness This song seems to be the best balance between song and lyric. It feels like it was written all at once and everything fet together without the slightest bit of effort.