[Album Review] The Zolas- Swooner
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)


Release Date: March 4th, 2016
Label: Light Organ Records

You know what I–sort of–miss? The Jonas Brothers. Before you take your flaming pitchforks and condemn this writer to a deep circle of hell, know that “Lovebug” and “Burnin’ Up” were tunes that made people swoon. These were tracks with a meow to them that, besides sending some cringe-muscles haywire, brought fans to fainting spells. The Zolas have harnessed such sensibilities, the ones  of the club-goer, trying to make their moves through dance. They might not dance well when their tunes play–they can feel like the cretin who deservingly gets their groin kicked–but you would be lying if some of their sonic motions don’t make you feel anything.

For these Vancouverites, influences can feel grappled from nice bits of Canada. At times, the band can channel their inner Bedouin Soundclash, paying their fares at Toronto toll booths and pitching a tropical rhythm to go with the night. They can also have the upbeat tempo of a group like illScarlett while tackling the vocals of Marianas Trench’s Josh Ramsay. “Get Dark” is the perfect example of a track where these different facets of rock come together, even with a robotic vocal tone at its end ruining the lax, transit-chilling melodies. “Fell In Love With New York,” in all its eye-rolling cliché, tries to take on a similar mood, only to fail by just capturing a similar tempo, subtracting the genuine emotions “Get Dark” had. But this is the band at the stage between hip-moving jams and sad slow dances.

At their quick-witted pace, The Zolas are going to be the band to make you want to jam in semi-clean train cars. When they harness a sound akin to the Jonas Brothers, the group will make you throw political correctness to the wind, making you mentally call everything pretty, even though it makes you uncomfortable. Intro track “Molotov Girls” never makes you burn things down, yet its electronic beats will at least make a titular girl resist being polite, leaving them to slap you. The title track constructs the swooner as both a mythical woman and a resister of conservative notions. Despite its common dance pop tropes of rising temperatures, the line “That incandescent girl / Of Incan descent” is smart, to the point where I’d feel kind of bad for the man who got slapped for slipping such a thing.

Then again, it would be hard to feel bad once “CV Dazzle” springs its words about “Sending all our dreams to a spreadsheet in the sky”. Such a song has an appropriate tempo, but its hard-hitting rock guitar overcompensates and comes off as a dance track for those who don’t know how to conquer the dancefloor. “Male Gaze,” with its discomfort-eliciting title, is not much a dance-worthy tune as it is a helpful tune in reconstructing the clubgoer Swooner goes with. The person we jam with becomes enamoured by what he can’t have, indicating that he “should’ve been a cocaine dealer in the ’80s.” Intentional or not, the album follows one who wants contact with the swooner, whose life has darkness in their corner.

Swooner‘s slower takes act more as a catalyst to sadness, rather than something that can elicit such emotions. Both the individual and the piano keys faint in their adoration on “This Changes Everything,” cracking like the ice between continents in its beauteous simplicity. “Why Do I Wait (When You’ve Got A Lover)” is crushed by circumstances, both sonically and emotionally. Sadly, the piano’s presence is arbitrary on such a track, not helping the different speeds between instrumentation.

If Swooner was a person, they wouldn’t be too much of a jerk in the face of the molotov girls they want. In their head, they think that all they crave is sex, so they dance in front of possible belles to show charisma. But by the end of their venture–through their hits and misses–they realize they want love. The Zolas, in this case, are willing to buy the club drinks on them and repeat the dance again. Because, damn, they’re quite fun.