“Century Rail” begins Taxis on a curious, jaunty note for Detroit’s Zoos of Berlin. The keyboard bounces along while guitarist Trevor Naud and bassist Daniel I. Clark amicably share vocal duties. The playful track paints with a colorful palette that includes some nice keyboard flourishes and an echoing trumpet. It makes the listener wonder what type of album follows.
Unfortunately, the underdeveloped dance-rock of second track “Black in the Sun Room” unsettles the mood and can’t quite match the opener’s intrigue. Then the six-minute “Juan Matus” allows the band to satisfyingly wander the spectrum from lilting post-rock and unexpected tempo shifts to ominous synth washes and back again. “Our Jailer Eats Alone” feels like a fleeting thought rather than a full-fledged idea. Later, there’s dance-rock done well with the genuinely likable “Electrical Way”. Thus, like so many before them, unevenness and a sense of uncertainty plague a promising band’s debut full-length.
That said, there’s still a lot to like here. Taxis is a well-produced album; one where each instrument and vocal harmony floats in its own space with nothing bleeding in between. The effect may be a bit clinical, but it suits the genteel, steely vibe of Zoos of Berlin. The members of the band, having played in various notable bands such as Pas/Cal and collaborated with the likes of Carl Craig, are clearly proficient, well-connected players. Greater cohesion and clarity of vision are certainly in the future given the talent and production acumen on display throughout Taxis.