By David Williams
The Inside, the latest release from South African alternative rock band Zebra & Giraffe, shows development in audacity. Twelve musically appetising tracks have been integrated into an album that, compared to their electronic-sounding debut Collected Memories, focuses on soaring guitar riffs and pulsating drumming rhythms.
The music is at the same time mysterious, driving and spectacular and really helps carry the lyrics, which convey the band’s personal journey over two years. The first two tracks, I Belong and Terrified, are reminiscent of sounds pioneered by New Order and The Killers, from whom the band has drawn inspiration. Indeed, Undo these lies is an excellent track that you could almost mistake as a song from the Killers.
Have I Got No Soul? is one of the most noticeably different songs on the new album; vocalist Greg Carlin notes that, “Lyrically, it’s inspired by a scene in Mulholland Drive, my favourite David Lynch film. It’s about feeling outcast, unwanted and awkward”. One of the best new tracks is the outstanding The End of the Road, which is upbeat in comparison to many of the other songs on the album.
The album’s authentic quality may be attributed to sound mixer Cenzo Townshend, a talented engineer who has been in the recording industry for over twenty years and has worked with acclaimed artists such as U2 and Snow Patrol.
“The image and the sound and the videos all mean nothing without good songs,claimed Carlin.
“As a band we wanted to produce a record that sounded played rather than programmed and cut up. We worked hard to get full takes on everything rather than using the computer to cut up and perfect everything”.
The artwork by Alice Edy is similar to what you would find on Ed Hardy shirts and tattoo arm sleeves. It complements the album, taking on a life of its own during the listening experience, much like a music video.
Zebra & Giraffe have been working hard to prove that they could produce an even better album and beat the expectations that inevitably follow a successful debut, a task fulfilled with due justice. Flowing continuously from track to track, The Inside takes the listener on a sonic journey that comes to a fulfilling resolution. This album is worth it, especially for a South African band, so if the employee at the CD store says it’s a good buy; believe them, because it’s true.