Friday, September 17, 2010
The Other Side of Zero is the follow-up to Elizabeth & The Catapult's debut album Taller Children and set to hit stores October 25th. "If I had to compare our albums," says Elizabeth Ziman, "I'd say Taller Children has the sarcastic lightness of a Woody Allen film, and the new record's more like Kubrick or Lynch- a little darker, a little more tongue-in-cheek."
The first noticeable aspect is that unlike Taller Children, this new album doesn't seem to have any stand-out pop tracks that scream "radio play." Taller Children had the fun, catchy, hook-laden earworms of "Taller Children," "Momma's Boy" and "Race You" primed to get stuck in your head, but The Other Size of Zero lacks this air of simplicity. This isn't a compilation of simple fun indie pop songs - this album has mature sturdy tracks, more complex in construction and meaning. That's not to say the album isn't radio-friendly, on the contrary, many tracks could be easily singled. At the moment, the swaggering "The Horse & The Missing Cart" is the single on the airwaves, but "(Time) We All Fall Down," "You & Me," and "Julian, Darling" would equally suit. But it's not the same sort of pop single sound we've heard before. These tracks are more enigmatic, rhythmic and unnerving.
There are tracks I simply did not expect from usually upbeat Elizabeth & The Catapult. Much of the album incorporates slower Rufus Wainwright-esque ballads, like "Open Book," "The Other Size of Zero," and the excellent snide melancholy "Thank You For Nothing," where Elizabeth sings, "Thank you loving me, thank you for leaving/ Thank you for promising and then promptly forgetting." This is a far cry from Taller Children's "Race You." It seems we've fast-forward from the giggles and fun of a budding relationship and gone straight to the cold and hurtful breakup process. The remarkably beautiful closer "Do Not Hang Your Head," sounds like a lost song from Sarah McLachlan's Afterglow album with spacious resonating vocals, pensive reverberating piano and a message of rebirth.
The stark difference between this album and their peppy debut works in Elizabeth & the Catapult's favor and signifies growth. It's greatest trait is that even the upbeat songs come across as somewhat distressing and regretful - "Thank goodness for that," Elizabeth says, "Ultimately that's the only way I'd feel comfortable singing them." The Other Size of Zero is chock-full of interesting pieces, sometimes obviously choleric or solemn and other times veiling its note of distaste, but each and every track has weight, purpose and, most importantly, meaning.
Standout tracks: Thank You For Nothing, Julian Darling, Open Book, The Horse & The Missing Cart, Do Not Hang Your Head
Previously: GFP interviews Elizabeth