Review by Dom Vigil
Take everything you think you know about The Rocket Summer and throw it out the window. At least, that’s what Bryce Avary has done with this release. Completely cohesive while remaining just the right amount of chaotic, there isn’t really just one way to describe Zoetic, and that’s quite possibly one of the best parts about it. Taking a complete step away from any of his previous material, Avary has successfully created an album without any boundaries or barriers, and as it progresses, you’re left wondering what he’s going to do next, simply because each song is so incredibly unique.
“Cold War” opens up Zoetic with beautiful vocals and incredible harmonies. The main focus of the song is definitely in the vocals and lyrics, but already, it is very funky, groovy and fun. “Cold War” is simply just a taste of what’s to come on Zoetic, full of energy, passion and soul. The first song is totally explosive, and carries perfectly into “Same Air.” Like “Cold War,” the second track is huge and explosive, but the vocals aren’t the only incredible thing about this song, nor are they the main focus. Right off the bat, “Same Air” is insane musically and all over the place, but in the best possible way. The verses are chaotic, carried by acoustic guitar, synthesizers and a strong drumbeat, but then the big chorus comes in and really opens things up like a dance track, completely changing the structure of the song. Lyrically, the chorus really brings things together as well, as the message of the song hits you like a slap to the face when Avary sings, “Everyone and everything/Every soul, every being/The same air we all are breathing/One shared pulse collectively beating.” Everything about “Same Air” reflects these lyrics, as musically everything from the soulful vocals to the funky bass, synthesizers, acoustic guitar and wild drums works together like a single organism.
Things just keep getting more and more wild as Zoetic progresses, too. “UNI” feels a little darker and more aggressive, drawing influence from rock and jazz, especially when the horn instruments and piano come in later in the track. Similar to “Same Air,” “UNI” is chaos, but it works and then some. Contrasting with “UNI” is “Help Me Out,” which is a softer almost-ballad. But, similar to the first three songs, (and the rest of the album) and even though “Help Me Out” is on the softer, more emotional side, there’s still quite a lot going on. From the many layers of beautiful vocals to the thumping drums and piano, “Help Me Out” is absolutely stunning - it just seems to grow as it goes on.
“White Fireworks” is another standout track simply because of how full and fast paced it is. The song starts out very dark and gritty sounding, but like “Same Air,” blooms into a huge chorus later on. Unlike the songs before it though, “White Fireworks,” can feel very frantic at times. Contrasting well with it is the following song, “You Are, You Are,” which is one of the more simplistic songs on the album. Where Avary’s vocals are very wild and at times gritty in “White Fireworks,” they take on a very soft and soothing quality in this love song. And then, shaking things up yet again is the big and aggressive track, “FL, CA.” You don’t really see it coming at first, when the song starts off with simple acoustic guitar and trembling vocals, but then the song kickstarts into a huge, aggressive chorus, proving yet again that nothing about Zoetic is quite what it seems.
Closing out Zoetic is the energetic “Emergency Landings,” and when it comes in, it feels as if the whole album has been leading up to this exact moment. The vocals, supplemented by flawless harmonies, are stunning, but not lacking in energy, carrying the wild track forward. And instrumentally, “Emergency Landings” is everything you will have grown to expect from Zoetic and more - it’s wild, changing pace multiple times within the blink of an eye, and while there is a lot going on musically, it never feels like too much. It’s amazing how easy and natural not only “Emergency Landings,” but Zoetic as a whole feels. While The Rocket Summer has completely reinvented the wheel with this one, it doesn’t feel forced or strained by any means. Each track makes sense and feels right. Zoetic is simply one for the books.
Listen to "Same Air"
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