album review ~ ed zealous ~ 'wired'

Ed Zealous are a band who have very much done it the hard way. From organizing their own tours, printing their own merch and relentless gigging up and down the country, there isn't much in the rock and roll check-list the Belfast four piece haven't been able to tick off. Except Ed Zealous aren't just another rock and roll band. Drawing comparisons to the electronic soundscapes of The Naked and Famous, Echosmith and Los Compesinos! amongst others, the difference between these now celebrated alternatives to the guitar driven indie of years gone by, is Ed Zealous have stuck to that remit for years. Many may assume they have simply jumped on the synth guided band wagon, in an attempt to raise the hype and attract the modern indie kid. Not so, as the 2013 release of their first single 'Telepaths' served to highlight. Now, over five years since their formation in late 2009, Ed Zealous's breakthrough into the mainstream consciousness took a step closer to reality with the release of their debut album 'Wired'. Encore NI couldn't wait to get our hands on it.

Opening with the piercing synths of '147', Ed Zealous set the tone early on through a flowing barrage of melody and rhythm. The chorus rises like The Killers at their electronic best, protruding suddenly from the fast paced verses to elevate the song to stadium filling levels.  There's a touch of Dog Is Dead about this track, as it swoops and sails through the wave of noise to an almost falsetto'd conclusion. A brilliant choice for first track and, you imagine, a potential set opener. The driving synths refuse to relent in second track 'Thanks A Million', as Ed Zealous's knack of crafting a beautiful amalgamation of two distinct sounds is showcased brilliantly. Listen closely to front-man Steve McAvoy's powerful vocals and you will hear a touch of Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil in the final delivery. Add to that the bass driven, edge of an early Muse and you will have an idea of the creative influence embraced throughout Wired.

'Medicines' takes the distinct 80's blue-print of a late New Order and sprinkles it with a shimmering dance beat that both encapsulates and, put simply, makes you want to move. Guitar overlays add a modern element to proceedings, yet in the context, the pristine pop woven into this track makes it a welcome addition to any DJ set or indie gathering in equal measure. The singalong nature of the chorus, 'What is going on?', gives this track the hook to complete it's jangling composition. First single 'Telepaths' then makes an appearance, another dance-styled track that, although lacks the catchy production of the tracks that have proceeded it, still has the gravitas necessary to send a room/concert hall/ field of festival goers into carefree 'dance like no one's watching' abandon. 'I Will Destroy You' is covered in 90's video game nostalgia, the opening synth lines sounding like a remixed version of every Nintendo game ever created. The syncopated back beats and repetitive drones allow the melody to burst in a subtle, yet dynamic finish, also making the song a perfect candidate for a dance-styled remix. (Palookaville DJ's we're looking at you)

'Talk With Your Hands' see the band take a brief foray into guitar centered territory, as the track rests upon a hypnotic, slightly heavier riff. The verses dance along a slightly darker tone, with a frantic drum beat complimenting the purpose filled vocal which cascades alongside it. Remaining on the video game theme, any passionate follower of the popular 'Fifa' franchise will surely be able to imagine this track holding it's own on one of their coveted soundtracks. Then comes 'Diamonds For Eyes', which must surly be considered the hit 'Wired' had been building up to from the opening electronic hook. With it's swirling underscores of 80's influenced synths and beautiful production, this track screams inventiveness. It contains the kind of feel good vibes that elevate an underground gem into a beloved, feel good party piece, a fail-safe wonder for the likes of Radio 1 to switch too when all else seems to be falling flat. Easily in the same category as Foals indie hit 'My Number' or MGMT's 'Kids'. Catchy, melodic and impossible to dislike, 'Diamonds For Eyes' is the song to blast from your speakers now, because very soon the cool kids will claim it as their own.

Follow up 'These Words' initially seems to fall slightly below par, even if this is too be expected after the high point of 'Diamonds...'. Although, as it progresses, 'These Words' does picks up, a grand production briefly allowing the track space to breathe. Quickly though, a bass that has been dropped slightly too often comes back into play, forcing a potentially exciting song into a slightly mundane dance styled piece. Penultimate track 'Videohead' opens with some of the most explosive drumming you may hear on a record this year, the sheer pace of Paul Irwin's time keeping setting the track up well. Unfortunately, this track too seems to fail to reach the heights of the first half of the record. Despite the catchy hooks of 'It's a mess, it's a mess, but I'm trying my best' and the indie guitar solo which follows, 'Videohead' simply never gets going. Thankfully the album gets the ending it deserves through final track 'It's Only The End', opening as it means to go on, with a renewed sense of desire. Ed Zealous seem to regain their purpose, as the retro grooves and 80's influences return in a flamboyant and eccentric manner. The subtle introduction of a high pitched backing vocal give proceedings a Daft Punk type of feel, again adding to the eclectic mix of influences spread across an intriguing debut.

In all, Ed Zealous have clearly laid down a marker for the future with Wired. It is captivating, baffling and completely electric in equal measure. As word of it's release spread across the country and beyond, expect an army of indie kids dancing to this record in dimly lit clubs.

Taylor Johnson

If you like... MGMT | Chvrches | Echosmith ~ You'll Love Ed Zealous

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