Lee’s Listening Stack – Zombies – ‘Breathe Out, Breathe In’
Breathe Out, Breathe In
Reconvening an age-old outfit after an absence of several decades is, at best, an iffy proposition even in the best of circumstances. It’s even more treacherous when various core members have deserted the ranks and, for whatever reasons, don’t feel inclined to return. It’s easy to then suspect that there’s no other goal for the willing other than money, or perhaps a desperation to reclaim the fame that might not be possible when individual players venture out on their own. To their credit then, the Zombies’ chief mainstays Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone elevate their names on the marquee in order to make it clear this is their venture and theirs alone. While all the original Zombies reunited several years back in celebration of their unabashed masterpiece, Odessey & Oracle (released, ironically, after their initial split and thus never performed in concert), this gathering includes only Argent and Blunstone, augmented by some stringers, most notably bassist Jim Rodford who lends some cred thanks to his stint with Argent in… Argent. They’ve been touring together for some years now and recorded as well, re-establishing the brand with a reconstituted trio.
Sound-wise, the new Zombies veer closer to the elegiac chamber pop that marked Odessey & Oracle, although Breathe Out, Breathe In offers little that’s as original or as masterful as that sterling ’68 template. Argent’s ornate keyboards and Blunstone’s lofty vocals still shimmer, and there’s still more than a hint of their stately ambitions on songs such as “I Do Believe,” “Let It Go” and “A Moment In Time.” Yet, even the song titles hint at the lack of that certain spark that steered them early on. One would be hard pressed to find anything on this album that could compare with, say, “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No,” much less “Time of the Season.” At most, its enjoyable, and its occasional flourishes – the Beach Boys-like vocals on the title track, the rough-hewn “Play It For Real” (which recalls the shuffling time changes of the Beatles’ “Hey Bull Dog”) – add interest if not fascination. If Argent and Blunstone weren’t forced to measure up to precedent, it might even be considered a triumph. Yet, knowing that the original Zombies are in fact dead and buried, the mandate established by Breathe Out, Breathe In doesn’t resurrect them now. — Lee Zimmerman
Lee Zimmerman is a contributor to a variety of publications, including Blurt, M Music & Musicians, New Times, Goldmine and Amplifier
This review appears courtesy of Amplifier, 50,000 Watts of Non-Stop Indie Rock http://amplifiermagazine.blogspot.com/