Hadrian’s Wall was built to prevent raids from the fearsome Scottish Pictish tribes. Ask Mel Gibson about Scottish culture and he’ll probably grab another bottle of whiskey, paint his face blue and start waving a stick about like a maniac. Assuming that he’s not already in that state when you raise the issue.
Zoey Van Goey couldn’t be more at odds with this view of all things Scottish if they tried. As with fellow countrymen Belle and Sebastian, theirs is a world of sweet heavy knit cardigans, sunshine and fluffy bunny rabbits. Yep, another twee band from Glasgow – it must be something they put in the water up there.
Not that we’re complaining, of course, for this is fine stuff indeed. The Belle And Sebastian comparisons are obvious but not entirely unjustified, seeing as Stuart Murdoch produced their first single. But more of that later.
For a band that later reveals itself to have a fairly sunny disposition it seems a peculiar choice to start your debut album on a downbeat number, but that’s just what Zoey Van Goey do. The Best Treasure Stays Buried’s plaintive guitars quiver quietly behind a sweet vocal from Kim Moore who constantly reminds us to “remember it’ll all blow over”.
And blow over it does as the band find their stride with We Don’t Have That Kind of Bread. Rather than a tale of an awkward customer in a bakery, it tells the story of a couple who can’t leave their house for fear of getting kidnapped and not being able to afford the ransom. It a subject that most bands would explore in a fidgety coke driven paranoiac state, but in the hands of Zoey Van Goey it’s practically a nursery rhyme. The clever lyrics and an irresistible chorus hook calls to mind the much missed Dogs Die In Hot Cars – really a bigger compliment than you might think.
We All Hid In Basements is an apocalyptic yarn which finds our new favourite band cowering in their basement amongst stacks of baked beans praying to Super Mario for a miracle as the machines take over. Ten years ago, this song would have been billed as pre-millennial angst but now it sounds like the Terminator franchise with characters knitted by your mum. It stands out by being one of the few songs here that makes full use of the male/female vocals the band employs while also changing tack instrumentally to embrace a bit of glitchy electronica.
Foxtrot Vandals, the Murdoch-produced single, races off with that indie-drum beat that permeated every song with slightly dancey pretensions in the late ’80s, sounding like a skittish version of Funky Drummer. It’s the only song here with a zing in its step, the lush vocals and dainty keyboards propelled with a percussive itch that the band can’t quite scratch. Murdoch’s production has a light touch and allows the band to breathe – if attention wasn’t drawn to his name, you’d barely know he was there.
Foxtrot Vandals may be the most uptempo song here but Zoey Van Goey hardly have feet of clay. It’s just that they can quite happily sit in a mid-paced groove and charm you with their intelligence and honeyed pop. There probably isn’t a song here that you won’t find echoing around your head at some point, distracting us from our chores. For that reason alone we should probably rebuild that wall, for Zoey Van Goey could destroy what’s left of our already fragile economy south of the border. Maybe Mel Gibson can make that movie.