Some people could be forgiven for lumping Liverpool five-piece The Zutons in the same pigeonhole as label mates The Coral. After all, both share the same hometown, the same producer in Ian Broudie and the same eccentric worldview that contributes to their beautifully skewed songs. Yet to just dismiss them as Coral copyists would be to wildly miss the point.
For although The Zutons also throw in all types of genres into the musical mix, there’s more discipline exerted here, with no reliance on the so-called “wacky” pot-head humour that The Coral sometimes get too involved with. Although a track entitled Zuton Fever may hint at self-indulgence, it’s actually their perfect theme song.
Zuton Fever is just terrific – a spiky pop song dominated by its guitar riff, with a squealing saxophone adding to the variety on display. Pressure Point follows, and its paranoia and edginess brings Talking Heads‘ heyday to mind. Even better is recent single You Will You Won’t, a stomping rocker that shows off main man Dave McCabe’s voice to its full advantage.
It’s not all straightahead rock though in The Zuton’s world – which makes this album all the more rewarding. Confusion is outstanding, a folky lament apologising to a former lover (“From day one I led you on, I’m sorry girl but I can’t stay” as the chorus runs), while Not A Lot To Do has a jazzy feel to counterpoint the lyrics that bemoan the inertia of a Sunday afternoon.
The lyrics throughout are inspired – the standout Dirty Dancehall is a tongue in cheek look at a night out in their home city (“This is just a night in the City of Culture, but everyone’s whacked and looks like vultures”), and although the title and Spanish feel of Havana Gang Brawl may suggest a Cuban influence, the lyric “are you red or are you blue?” suggests its roots lie closer to home.
Elsewhere, Remember Me marries some rather nasty lyrics about two friends split up by a lover (“But I’ve made a deal with the clouds, gonna turn that sun into rain / So you forget about your love. come and see me again”) to a light and breezy melody that Paul McCartney would be proud of and Railroad tells the touching tale of an immigrant worker sending a love letter home to his girlfriend.
Broudie keeps a tight rein on proceedings (only Nightmares Part II comes close to self indulgence) and with barely a weak track on here, The Zutons have staked a credible claim to be at the forefront of the burgeoning Liverpool scene. If they carry on this trajectory, the only thing that will kill The Zutons is mass adoration.