Some bands must put an immense amount of pressure on themselves to be different, because it’s difficult to see too many other reasons for the style and direction in which Zea has chosen to go on its third full-length album, Insert Parallel Universe. Of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given that the uniqueness of the sound, with its fast-paced programmed drums, copious synth work, guitars that go from jangly to strummy on a moment’s notice, and vocals that chant as much as they sing makes for quite the interesting listen. Zea’s sense of humor doesn’t hurt, either—there’s a 26-second track here called “Song for SUV’s” that’s actually just a little bit of guitar noodling, the type of instrumental that no one in their right mind could call provocative unless they looked at the title. And songs like opener “My Bed is a Monument of Hate Against My Job” (which features some hilariously pointless profanity) and “Conformity Sneeze” (aw hell, I just like the title) give the impression that while the Zea folks may take their music plenty seriously, they don’t take themselves all that seriously. This is a rare quality in musicians, and while it may not necessarily lead to good music, it at least makes the listener want to root for them. Insert Parallel Universe is a cute little curiosity, worth seeking out if your only real criteria in the search is for something, yes, different.
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