Zoot Woman’s second full-length album is landing in a period of relative stagnancy in the mainstream electronic genre. Royksopp‘s Melody AM seems a long time ago, and it’s at least a year since Air or Daft Punk offered anything new. Thankfully, it seems that Zoot Woman’s self-titled effort is easily one of the best electronic releases of 2003 so far.
The main selling point for Zoot Woman must be the presence of a certain Jacques Lu Cont (AKA Stuart Price). A true Jacque-of-all-trades, Price has established a loyal fanbase through his fantastic Darkdancer album (released under the pseudonym Les Rythmes Digitales), not to mention collaboration and production on Madonna‘s latest projects.
In working again with the Zoot Woman team, Lu Cont is returning to the musicians he worked with before ever hitting the big-time, and it’s evident by the sound of the album. The songs are admirably simple whilst retaining an atmosphere rich enough to ensure many repeat listens. Album opener Grey Day (which is also the first single) is vintage Lu Cont, incorporating various electronic synthesisers, pop vocal delivery and a thumping, driving bassline. It’s ludicrously catchy, and has your attention from the very start.
Taken It All is shamelessly ’80s, but at the same time manages to come across as contemporary and, importantly for electronica, very well produced. Hope In The Mirror could have very well appeared on any Daft Punk or Cassius album (which is by no means a bad thing), and Snow White, though largely acoustic and downbeat, sits very comfortably in the tracklisting, and holds your attention as well as any other song on the album.
Jacques Lu Cont’s pop ideals make Zoot Woman an immediate, enjoyable prospect, and it’s the sheer quality of production and strength of songwriting that keep you coming back again and again. Even the relatively uneventful tracks, such as Calmer, are so sonically deep and rich that more is gradually revealed over time.
Like Zoot Woman’s influences (Jean Michel Jarre, for instance), this is the kind of electronica that reaches mainstream exposure, and deservedly so for tracks like Maybe Say would sound good in any style. In other words, Zoot Woman is more than just a good electronica album – it’s a great album full-stop.