The long-awaited return of Edinburgh-born The Rezillos is finally upon us with the release of ZERO on Metropolis Records. For those of you who haven’t heard, this is the band of rockers’ second album, emerging a cheeky 37 years after their debut, Can’t Stand The Rezillos (now considered to be a classic album from the first wave of British punk). Do they have your attention yet? On listening to their music for five minutes, they will – their music has a loud, cool and utterly unique vibrancy to it which defies any possibility of being ignored. More than this, ZERO has managed to to create the perfect synergy between old and new: it will not fail old fans’ expectations, who remember the band as outlandish punk rockers with little to be shy about, and will enthrall the new with their undeniable energy.
Yes – The Rezillos are a force to be reckoned with.
You might have had an inkling of their re-emergence already, following the band’s return to gigging in support of the release – they toured with The Stranglers last month, taking in 19 dates (if you missed it, don’t kick yourself – all hardcore fans can expect more dates in America throughout the rest of the year. That’s your summer holiday planned…). I can only imagine what power they’d wrangle onstage as ZERO alone has an epic level of presence to it – it’s not music that you can easily sink into the background, and you certainly feel upon listening to it that they might be in the room with you. Or, perhaps a room in the past, for the echoing mishmash of Blondie and The Cramps which prevails throughout implies that The Rezillos have retained a nostalgic attitude within the album whilst simultaneously engaging with today’s angsty youngsters.
ZERO kicks off with “Groovy Room”, a heavy intro which seals the theme for much of the rest of the album. Both frontliners are strong – Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife both possessing gritty, punchy tones – in particular, you can detect Fife’s Debbie Harry-like influence within the band, her voice often soaring above the punkish choruses and riffs. This is particularly prominent in “Life’s a Bitch”, the third track on the album, which sweetly reminds us that “life’s a bitch, then you die” – a punk-agro message if ever there was one.
The beats, riffs and tempo are, too, all powerful – importantly, the drumming isn’t submerged to the background of any of the tracks, as it often seems to be with many other bands. You can hear the guitars and the drums as clearly as each other, the combination of the two – and, notably, the beating rhythm of the former – helping to keep the listener immersed.
The band takes a diversion from the traditional with the album’s namesake track, “ZERO”, unarguably the most bizarre track out of the twelve (track eight). Both singers speak robotically into the mic (Fife assuring eerily that “although you say you’re zero/to me you’re still a hero”) whilst the guitars and drums keep up a thudding thrum, with occasional “alien-like” twangs and spits occurring throughout. I kind of feel like this song should be played in a film in which the main protagonist finds themselves in some sort of weird danger, perhaps after getting roaringly drunk and fainting in an alley, Sin City style. It’s pretty cool.
The creative punk-style resumes thereafter, particularly noticeable in another favourite, track eleven – “Spike Heel Assassin” (not only my favourite because of its obviously awesome name). This track in particular keeps you on your toes, changing consistently between verses, bridges and the chorus, adding occasional unexpected bars of music. Reynolds also deliciously rolls his “R’s” in this song, conjuring the image of a punkier Adam Ant chewing down the mic. Mmm.
The album has already received a lot of coverage from many reputable platforms, such as Record Collector, Uncut, Mojo, Artrocker and Trebuchet. Well-deserved, in my opinion. In fact, it seems poignant to cite this quote as worthy explanation as to why – “[when listening to ZERO the] listener [is] reminded of [The Rezillos] ability to pick up the corpse of Sixties pop culture and re-animate it in a blaze of dayglo brilliance”.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Words: Laura Demaude