en: When It Falls [info]
It was only a few short days ago that we hailed Fragile State's Voices From The Dust Bowl an album of "...bucolic impressions and beguiling dream-inducing electronica." The connection between that and Zero 7's second album When It Falls is Neil Cowley, protagonist in both musical ensembles.
Along with Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns the band have been hailed as Britain's answer to Air, and since their debut, Simple Things, three years ago, they have set the benchmark for all down-tempo albums to follow.
Admittedly, little has changed since then.Their modern day folk melodrama blended with unfussed, warm ambience, subtle touches of analogue electronica and ethereal vocals still stands. Even the same support cast of vocalists have been drafted in to make this feel more like a Part II then a whole new chapter.
The one notable addition is Tina Dico who virtuously embraces the lead single, "Home". Sophie Barker returning to caress the electric guitar strummed "Passing By" and hippy-kissed "In Time", while Sia Furler, who won acclaim for her performance of the group's debut, continues her claim to potential solo stardom on the melancholic "Somersault" and the orchestral climatic "Speed Dial No.2".
Mozez's oak-smoked delivery on a trio of cuts oozes a timeless quality and perfectly compliments the blissed out beats, sharp musicianship, and lazy grooves that epitomises the Zero 7 sound. Best highlighted on the album's closing offering, "Morning Song" - a thickly layered number with smooth, seductive harmonies that effectively drive home the quietly insinuating hook and towards the end even has a Style Council "My Ever Changing Moods"-quality to the melody.
There's really little to choose between songs, and as with Simple Things, this really is a conceptual album that's best viewed as a whole, rather then dissected into edible three-minute radio edits. Yet that won't stop almost every track on this kaleidoscopic soundscape being a candidate for the next twelve months worth of Chill Out collections. Oh, and in answering to your most burning question: is it better than Simple Things? No. But if were not for the lyrics, it would be almost impossible to tell them apart.