Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Zutons – You Can Do Anything (SonyBMG)

That whole ‘curse of the second album’ thing is just an urban myth, you know. Sure, there are a deluge of examples to give the theory sufficient weight, but take the Zutons. An above-par debut album, far outshined by its successor. See, the Zutons have waited til album three to let things go tits-up.

In fairness, You Can Do Anything is far more impressive than the above paragraph gives it credit for. It all comes down to what the listener considers their key pleasure within the Zutons (and no, that’s not a smutty Zoo-style reference to Abi’s legs). If it’s the exceptional melodies, you’re all good. If it’s the cheeky parps of sax, there’s nothing to worry about. However, if it’s the congenial Scouse buoyancy, this is where your luck runs out.

Take the very ordinary Give Me A Reason or the slightly oafish Family of Leechs (we were going to insert a [sic] but that wouldn’t be enough to highlight our grammatical disgust). Not bad tracks by anyone’s standards, but just lacking a certain upbeat oomph that the Zutons have come to define as their key facet. Thankfully, the more direct charm of You Could Make The 4 Walls Cry or lead single Always Right Behind You easily counteract such minor shortcomings.

Perhaps it’s down to the departure of Boyan Chowdhury, which, while not as directly evident as a Dave or Abi deficiency would be, underlines that he’s categorically more than just one of the Jims. Could the murkier tones be an aural epitaph, or has he upped and left taking every last gram of twinkle with him?

Or maybe the band are just resting on their laurels as they revel in the Valerie royalties? While Mark Ronson chokes on his comedy trombone and Winehouse chokes on her own vomit, the Zutons are swimming around in their money vault, Scrooge McDuck style, unwittingly divorced from their own musical worth.

Either way, nowhere near enough damage has been done to You Can Do Anything to prevent it from being a decent record. It’s merely lacking the immediacy found in Tired of Hanging Around, and the fresh-from-the-student-union charisma of Who Killed The Zutons?, and sadly, suffers slightly for it. Overall, however, it seems that You Can Do Anything’s bad points are mere footnotes, and are only as evident as they are due to the bar being set so astronomically high. The best kind of disappointing.

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