Album Review: Zulu Winter – Language

Angela Lawless


Zulu Winter are a five piece from London that were tipped for big things at the start of 2012.  They spent almost a year recording their debut album before playing any live shows together, obviously creating a buzz around them and hunger for more material.  This anticipation was satisfied with ‘Language,’ released in May 2012. The buzz was still present over summer as they played at Reading and Leeds and Field Day festivals.  Whether or not these expectations around them were more of a burden than a blessing could be debated, as could comparisons to everyone from similar art rock outfits Wild Beasts or Foals to bands like Keane and Coldplay. Their debut album ‘Language’ does make the many comparisons to bands like Wild Beasts make sense.  A mix of tribal beats, sorrowful, echoing vocals and fuzzy synths make ‘Language’ full of songs that are at times a little other worldly and at times – well, a little boring.  Zulu Winter have made a record that just feels a bit too safe. As a debut this is maybe to be expected, and after all a second album could give them more scope. All members of the quintet have completed Masters Degrees and cite inspiration from varied sources in the writing of their songs.  Frontman Will Daunt makes reference in interviews to TS Eliot and Armenian film maker Sergei Parajanov. These interests don’t really translate into the songs, for me.  ‘We Should Be Swimming,’ released as a single, is one of the standout tracks on the album at the first listen; it’s a pretty straightforward pop song you could easily dance to and has even featured on a few television ads.  The lyrics are pretty vacuous, but the upbeat tones more than make up for this.  Their other singles ‘Never Leave’ and ‘Silver Tongue’ also stand as out the more upbeat, radio friendly songs of the album.  The problem is that these few tracks stand out among the other songs that seem to act as filler.  The band claims their songs have depth and layers, with allusions to politics and current affairs.  Will Daunt makes reference in interviews that the song ‘People That You Must Remember’ is about unemployment and the UK youth riots of last summer.  After a few listens and concentrating on their lyrics you can see the idea but it hardly jumps out at you. So the first listen left me underwhelmed.  But give it a few more tries and you can find and appreciate the layers behind songs like ‘Bitter Moon’ and ‘You Deserve Better.’  The problem is, do people these days want to have to listen to a record a few times to ‘get’ it, or do they want instant gratification? This could be a problem for Zulu Winter as far as ‘Language’ is concerned, but there is talent there that could be brought out more over time and the chance of a second album.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);