Album Reviews

The Zincs – Dimmer

(Thrill Jockey) UK release date: 11 April 2005

Once upon a time there was a young man named James Elkington. James was unhappy with the small impression he had made on the musical world with previous bands Sophia and Elevate, so packed his bags and left England, UK for Chicago, USA.

Once there he found himself some new band members, called them The Zincs, then ditched his English name in favour of the more snazzy Jim Zinc. Unfortunately, here’s where the story ends. For the release of a record such as Dimmer can do nothing but signal the end of a career for a new band.

It’s not all bad, but there’s no getting away from the fact the main problem with this lifeless debut is Elkington’s voice. It is unusual, yet limp, in fact it is so obtrusive in an unbelievably inert manner, it totally disguises any substance the record may boast. With a hint of the sinister undertones of Brad Roberts, lead singer of The Crash Test Dummies, his deep sombre tones do more to unnerve than to stir.

Opener Breathe In The Disease, with its hypnotically comatose drums and wonky guitar efforts, features Jim at his least dynamic. So half-hearted in fact, you would be forgiven for growing anxious about his state of consciousness. Not a good way to introduce yourself to a new audience.

A Colt’s Tooth features a guitar solo that sounds as if it’s being played by a two-fingered monkey while shagging a donkey, then diminishes into a Year Four percussion lesson – although you may be too bamboozled by Elkington’s repeated lyrics, “It made me laugh, like a giraffe”, to notice.

Beautiful Lawyers at least shows the guitarist has the ability of awaking from his slumbers to inject rhythm into the band. But Bad Shepherds’ folky plucking is let down by, well, the mere mention of bad shepherds. They drink in the morning, drink in the night, their flocks are out of the sight. Whether dry humour or wholly symbolic, lyrics like these are totally unnecessary.

All that said, penultimate tune Sunday Night features Elkington at his softest and most relaxed and his subtle vibrato lulls where previously it had droned. Sadly it’s too little too late.

He may be an expatriate, he may feel alien and be trying to convey this feeling through his music, but it’s no excuse. The Zincs have tour dates in the States, so there’s no reason for them to come here. God help us if Jim Zinc decides he wants to stay.

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