Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
The Zutons : Faro Italico
It's a rocking freakshow...
the sound around in your mouth and it's evocative
of a 1950s idea of space travel, death rays and cardboard monsters, of lab coats and glasses thicker than Emma from Big Brother. Not, it must be said, of The Zutons' voodoo rock, party-time sax and insistent grooves. And certainly not of sunny Rome, tennis stadia and a support slot with Muse.
So applause aplenty, then, for this charming bunch of Scousers endeavouring to bring a few sun-dappled grooves
to the world while supporting a band with a tidal wave of riffs so massive that Rome is afraid of being engulfed and the makers of The Day After Tomorrow are considering suing.
But this sunny disposition can't disguise the darkness at the heart of The Zutons - punishing tom toms, guitars crackling like lightning conductors, sinister lyrics, and songs brimming with rampant sax and violence. If, at times, this concoction feels like nothing more than the soundtrack to a party at which someone's threatening to spike the punch with hemlock, then all the better for it.
Despite it being their first Italian show, the crowd instantly fall under The Zutons' spell. And why not? Their mythologising of shadowy figures and zombies is more appropriate than
it first appears here in Rome. After all, this is a city whose founders were raised by a she-wolf. Romulus and Remus would surely have approved of The Zutons' darker concerns - and theirs is a story which would make a decent The Zutons song. The rhythms of 'Pressure Point' and 'You Will You Won't' inspire spontaneous outbreaks of smooth Italian gyrations while tonight 'Dirty Dancehall' sounds like a horror version
of The Sweeney theme tune - y'know, the one where Regan gets eaten by zombies.
The only dissenting voice is a Muse fan down the front
who yells, "Shit!" twice. Dave McCabe dedicates a song to
her: "This is for the girl at the front with hairy armpits who stinks." Not quite Anne Robinson, but nevertheless a prime lesson in why, as Dave puts it, "You don't fuck with someone with a microphone."
'Railroad' is the only weak link: a hokey old tune that's pleasant but more sugary than a Cornetto marinated in honey. But it does nothing to undermine the fact that this is a band primed to be the hit of the festivals. The worst you can say
is that they're cursed with an over-fondness for puns that'd have even NME headline-writers reaching for their revolvers: 'Havana Gang Brawl' and 'Zutonkhamuun', indeed. Chances are they reckon they gave that solitary heckler a 'pizza their mind'. Tsk, Lord have, er, Mersey.
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