The very sedate opening of “Futures” sounds as if Zero 7 has taken on the mantle of folk rock that was previously worn by acts like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The infusion of this style with a very electronic-based atmosphere puts this act into a current context as well as makes the disc that much more interesting. The use of a number of guest vocalists during “The Garden” gives the disc a very eclectic style, with Zero 7’s brand of very light and airy compositions being the one constant for the disc. Each of the songs would be perfect on NPR or alternative rock stations, as they blend skill with a very open and friendly sound.
The electronic influence of “Seeing Things” makes Zero 7 into a band that calls to mind Vangelis and Wendy Carlos; the song sounds more like something that should come out of an eighties movie rather than something released in 2006. However, at some point the track has a timeless appeal; Zero 7 has been able to contextualize it in the current period well. Sia puts eir guest vocals to “Pageant of the Bizarre”, and brings the track into the realm of Corinne Bailey Rae and Nelly Furtado; the electronic arrangements take a back seat to these smooth vocals.
The true talent of Sia is shown during eir second track on “The Garden”, “You’re My Flame”. Of course, there is still the same Indian/ethnic sound to Sia at points during the track, but a second facet of Sia’s style is shown during the track. Hints of Fiona Apple and Stevie Nicks come into focus during the track, giving Zero 7 yet another distinct style for “The Garden”. There are two distinct styles that come forth during “The Garden”, and they are largely divided by who ends up singing on the track. If Gonzales is singing, a late sixties/early seventies style dominates, while if Sia is singing, a more current sound is what individuals will hear. Regardless, each singer is very professional and talented, allowing the compositions of Zero 7 to be given a serious boost. Zero 7 is a band that could conceivably have their CD put on at the party and have individuals of all groups groove out on. While the music that is on “The Garden” isn’t too terribly “hard” or “heavy”, much of Zero 7’s victories come in their ability to finesse their way deep into listeners’ hearts.
Top Tracks: Today, Futures