Reforming in 2011 – the band has played together for 12 years – Zulu Winter garnered much attention in the blogosphere this past year. Following a theme laid by T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland (and referencing other classical literature), their debut album Language documents the band’s reflection on youth, manhood, old age, femininity, religion and atheism, from the sexualised lyrics of Silver Tongue to the colder aspects of relationships addressed in Words That I Wield.
Entering the alternative music scene as an indie-rock band is a slightly brave thing to do – it’s already highly saturated with bands of a similar ilk, and musically the five-piece tread similar waters to The Vaccines and Howler. The first few tracks of Language will immediately convince you that Zulu Winter have nothing new to offer. Key To My Heart sets a pleasant yet flat tone and this middle-of-the-road journey continues with We Should Be Swimming. Two tracks in and there is still no memorable hook or moment.
Thankfully, by the third track the album begins to bloom. Bitter Moon’s line “Hey! Turn the light on/This bitter moon is rising” brings a warm sing-along invite, whilst the lush arrangement of Small Pieces swells magnificently as the electric guitar and synth work weave in and out of one another, creating an aurally blissful experience. The track finishes with the electric guitar tearing up the final refrain of the chorus, augmenting the bitterness in the repeated phrase, “What kind of man are you/Holding onto that feeling?” The simplistic hook in Words That I Wield’s chant, “I keep you with the words/The words I wield”, are heightened by the stunning, fragile falsetto of Will Daunt’s, communicating a sense of victimization.