It’s difficult to come up with an introduction for this review that is as original and unpredictable as each track on Zox’s new album, The Wait [Armo Records]. Zox’s talent speaks for itself.
From the moment the first track, “Thirsty,” cuts through the air, there is the temptation to slap a label on the style or push Zox into a certain genre. You are hooked in by a beat you know and a personality you recognize. Lead singer Eli Miller seems laid back but has an undercurrent of passion and urgency in his voice that’s hard to let go of. This isn’t just any band, so they don’t adhere to just any style. Rising incredibly high on the charts as an unsigned band, the Zox boys worked themselves up from the bottom. Now signed with major label Side One Dummy, they are ready to strut their stuff and the credit they deserve is more than we can supply here. Zox’s composition is dynamic yet simple, and if the dominating sound of the electric violin doesn’t intrigue you, don’t worry, the lyrics will. Zox does an excellent job with their words; creative and poetic, but still down-to-earth. Each song’s lead-in is mysterious and hides the nature of the song to follow, complementing the band’s versatility. Zox is definitely a hybrid, if you can even call it that. There are bits and pieces from all over; punk, reggae and even a smidge of ska.
The track “Carolyn” is surprisingly honest and bravely different; an example of how Zox sticks to certain favorite sounds but can also mix it up and add emphasis with an extra cadence or harmony. “A Little More Time” slides into an atmosphere of plucky beats and mellow vocals, giving it a reggae bounce that is so Sublime, (in both senses of the word).
Prepare to be swept away. The violin solo in “Anything But Fine” catches you coming down and immediately, you are lifted back up, strung out on the purity of its melody. The violin starts the serenade, waiting for the soft but strong vocals to seep in. The song gains layers and momentum until you are lost in its beautiful darkness. Then sloughing off its layers, the violin takes you down and out. “Anything But Fine” is sure to be a favorite, and one can’t help but get lost in its sound and its lullaby.
Many of Zox’s songs are successfully therapeutic, while remaining diverse in style. There are the pretty, soothing songs and the catchy, fun songs. Because the lyrics are so relatable, Zox has made the jump from “easy listening” to music that establishes a connection and leaves you wanting more. The exodus of feeling that is Zox perfectly fills up the space, whether that space is simply the air around you or resides deep within.
Sometimes the vocals and lyrics take a backseat to what is happening instrumentally, but understand that Zox is anything but mindless. The lyrics are a combination of beautiful conundrums and common language, triggering thoughts and helpful understanding, such as “Can’t Look Down”, a song with a message and captivating violin.
As an album, The Wait is anti-cliché and solidly satisfying. Zox creates a sound that is all their own, continuously holding the listener in suspense and gathering momentum. Some of their songs feel ready to break on top of you and bleed down, running down your sides. You find yourself encompassed and surrounded. Sometimes they pull at your yearning heart; at other times, they tighten around your memory and then gently release you.
One thing is certain, your wait is over. Zox is here to stay and they have nothing to do but continue to make the music that will quench our thirst.