[22 January 2009]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
That Nick Zubeck works with the likes of Sandro Perri gives away his talent for complex instrumentation and thickly-layered songs. And his record, Tracker, gives us just that. These songs are wonderfully textured, but still clean-sounding pop tunes that range from the sawdust rock of “Sentimental Devil” to the spacey jazz slide of “Body Parts” to the massive piano pop of “Cherry Sunshine”. Zubeck’s vocals are sweetly simple, and are more charming than they are distinct. But Tracker is a likeable disc all the way through. It settles into a sound, but never lacks for surprises, and while they melodies aren’t immediate they do leech in and take hold after a while. The record is sometimes a little too well produced, making it sound a little slicker than it need be. The looser sound of “Sentimental Devil” sounds a little more lively than, say, the under-funked “Warm Blood”. Like a few tracks here, that song has all the right elements—a dirty bass line, crunchy guitars, and a great vocal performance. But electric piano and organ are set too high in the mix and polish down the edges into something a little less tame. There are no flat-out bad moments in Tracker to speak of, just ones that feel held back by the record’s production. Still, its a good enough record that, if you hadn’t already heard Nick Zubeck, you should go and seek this out.