The promo sheet mentions that Elvis Costello was a major influence on the leader of Particle Zoo, Jeff Devito. The first track of “Loneliness and Strangers” “Girasole” is the perfect example of this, as Jeff’s vocals mix in with synthesizers that would work as perfectly as on any Red Hot Valentines song. In much of the same way as the earliest Elvis Costello albums, tracks like “Freaky Fat Tuesday” really add to the general sound of the disc a heavy amount of ska and punk-influenced rock (which morphs into something that surprisingly sounds like an Asia song).
The slower tempo that is present during “Pi In The Sky” really creates a snag on the disc that manifests itself again during the acoustic-heavy “Blue Walrus”. The warbling of Jeff is really not as impressive as when ey full-out belts the lyrics out, and this pensive and slower track really does not have the same hurried sound to it that made the other tracks on “Loneliness And Strangers” succeed. The quicker tempo and country/bluegrass guitar breakdowns that litter “Toe In The Grave” is a nice re-start for the disc, incorporating sixties pop-rock to the earlier nerd punk. The fact that tracks like “Mistakes” can make it onto “Loneliness and Strangers” while having a very different sound than most of the tracks on the disc is a testament to the desire for experimentation that Jeff and the rest of the band has. “Mistakes” may just be the one track that jumps from the bulk of similar-sounding songs on the disc to find its own way and succeed.
The drums do more than provide listeners with a timekeeping function, but really work perfectly in tandem with the bass line to provide a groove to this track that will get individuals on the dance floor. Continuing the different-sounding mishmashes for the interestingly-signatured “Before This Song”, Particle Zoo show listeners that they can achieve a different and unique sound while still being audibly influenced by bands like U2. While there is a definite brand of tracks that scream “Loneliness and Strangers”, the fact is that Particle Zoo may just be the furthest-reaching in their incorporation of different styles and sounds for their music. Some of the experiments made on the tracks do not work, but this little bit of humanity and a strong holds onto some modicum of decency really make listeners want to listen in again and again.
Top Tracks: You Cut Me Down, Girasola
Particle Zoo – Loneliness And Strangers / 2005 Digital Butchers / 13 Tracks / http://www.pzoo.com / Reviewed 15 September 2005