Zero 7 – When It Falls (2004)

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Zero 7 are an English musical duo consisting of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker. They began as studio engineers and in 1997 formed the group Zero 7.
Downbeat acts proceed down the middle of the road at their own peril. While such a path may guarantee them a lucrative career in Starbucks outlets and on crossover compilations, the onset of advanced musicianship and mature songwriting often comes at the expense of artistic ability (see the steady downward fall of Groove Armada for an example). Zero 7, one of the few acts following in the wake of Air that had the talent to match, debuted with a record (Simple Things) that featured some of the warmest, most mellifluous tracks heard in electronic music since Moon Safari. When It Falls, their second record, finds the duo largely sticking to the same formula, with all the sinewy basslines and languorous vocals that follow along. As before, Zero 7 is more of a band than most downbeat acts, with credits for bass, guitar, and drums plus keyboards, brass, flute, and strings. Much of the record is nearly perfect downbeat, and the productions of Zero 7 main men Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns mesh perfectly with the instrumentation — so well, in fact, that the record threatens to sink into a nether region of pop music that’s both flawless and harmless, more adult alternative than electronic pop. There’s nothing wrong with that prospect, but when a downbeat act begins to emulate a pop act, the situation practically demands developed songs and tighter hooks. Unfortunately, only a few tracks here meet those criteria. Fortunately, though, they are beautiful indeed. On “Home,” new addition Tina Dico summons the downy, pastoral yearning that’s become de rigueur for downbeat female vocalists, and the returning Sia Furler shines on a track (“Somersault”) that’s simultaneously spacy and down-home. Sophie Barker, the star of Simple Things‘ “Destiny,” returns for “In Time,” one of the sweetest tracks Zero 7 has ever produced. The rest of the record, however, possesses very few of the unburnished edges needed by albums with character or personality. When It Falls reaches a nadir of sorts on “The Space Between,” a pleasant song that unfortunately descends into self-parody over the course of its six minutes — two minutes of which are taken up by an overripe harmonica solo.
The album features vocals by Sia Furler (on tracks “Somersault” and “Speed Dial No.2”), Mozez (on “Warm Sound”, “Over Our Heads” and “Morning Song”), Sophie Barker (on “Passing By” and “In Time”) and Tina Dico (on “Home” and “The Space Between”), among other artists.

Tracklist

1.  “Warm Sound” – 5:30
2.  “Home” – 4:37
3.  “Somersault” – 6:57
4.  “Over Our Heads” – 4:24
5.  “Passing By” – 4:52
6.  “When It Falls” – 5:31
7.  “The Space Between” – 6:01
8.  “Look Up” – 5:57
9.  “In Time” – 4:58
10.  “Speed Dial No. 2” – 3:51
11.  “Morning Song” – 6:32

Credits

Notes
Released: 1 March 2004
Genre:  Downtempo, trip hop, electronica
Length: 59:07

Label – Elektra Records

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