[sic] Magazine

Zerova – I Think We’ve Lost

A repetitive, almost hypnotic sequence, opens this debut album from Polish upstarts, Zerova. You are ushered forward on a journey punctuated by a stream of bleeps and clicks, only to be greeted by a seductive accordion. It’s sumptious. I find myself enjoying a springtime stroll down a Parisian boulevard, in pursuit of a fresh-limbed girl called Nicole, in spite of a restraining order orchestrated by her over-protective father. He’s watching my every move from his compact, yet surprisingly spacious, family car , or would be had I not taken the pre-emptive measure of removing its tyres. Eventually we see eye-to-eye and we’re able to laugh the whole thing off in a nearby patisserie over croissants. Papa had the foresight to join the AA.

There’s already points on the board. At this stage things could take a turn for the worse. I’m nervous as to what to expect. Will they get lost in a flurry of clicks and whistles and demented cash register noises so typical of this genre ? Not a bit of it. “333” propels us instantly skyward. If you’ve just been nominated to do essential bits of maintenance work on a space vehicle that’s way past its sell-by date, you’re going to want something like this on your Ipod to console yourself when the tether breaks free. As you drift off in the direction of the Indian subcontinent, muttering the word “shit”, or alternatively “bollocks”, into your mouthpiece, you’ll be delighted to learn that at the heart of this record lies a series of achingly-gorgeous compositions which will enchant the ears, just as they start to warm up a little. Melodies that oughtn’t to have the cheek to exist repeatedly bubble up and subside like meltwater from a rapidly retreating glacier.

Vocals occasionally surface like a submerged toddler banging his fists on the frozen surface of a pond in January. You try to reach out, but you did warn him. At least you managed to retrieve the family pet. It’s time to find warmth in a nearby pub, time for companionship and someone who’ll listen. At one point they seem to breathe “Stay Away” or “Sail Away”. They can’t be “bigging up” Enya, surely? This, though, is how Enya would sound if she’d suffered long-term exposure to the ravages of communism whilst being locked inside a storage unit provided by the Iceland supermarket chain. I believe the expression is “Hold that thought”.

The average January temperature in Bialystok, Zerova’s hometown, is minus five degrees. Hardly surprising then that an icy melancholy pervades some of the tracks, if you believe that a climate’s influence can be detected in the repertoire of the musicians who must suffer it. The Smiths were from Manchester, yet I always found their music far from dismal, piss-awful and sodden. Whilst Zerova may, at times, encourage you to pull up the collar on your Crombie, they are never frigid. On a different hearing, what first gave you goose-pimples is at once warm and pulsing, like Knutsford on a Saturday evening in August.

“I Think We’ve Lost” has a subtle, even folksy, charm that works its way under your skin, rather like Alan Titchmarsh, if he had a nicer arse. Never direct or confrontational, this album is confident and content enough to recline casually in an armchair and allow you a glimpse of how things could be if you play your cards right in the hospitality suite. It doesn’t leer – it might brush itself suggestively against you, but withdraws quickly when you startle and tries to pass the thing off as a mistake. My advice is: stand your ground and don’t hog the twiglets. Zerova have arrived on our shores like the stirring easterly breeze that heralds the bitter Siberian chill. Oh yeah baby. Some of you may recall Leonard Rossiter as Rigsby explaining to one of his tenants why his rooms were so cold “There’s nothing between this house and the Urals” he said. On the strength of this record, he couldn’t have been more wrong.