I desperately want it to be spring already. If I look outside and focus just on the sun—and not the sound of the wind trying to separate nearby trees from their roots—while blasting Zebrassiere’s latest album, I Am Human, I can just about pretend that the warmer weather is finally here.
Zebrassieres was an Ottawa-based band that often got grouped in with other punk rockers like White Wires. Lead singer Andrew Payne recently made the move to Toronto and adopted Lethbridge’s Ketamines as his new band with the old name. The new band hasn’t meant much of a change in sound, but a more danceable punk sound is emerging with the addition of female vocalist, Iva.
“I Am A Human” makes the new sound obvious, as Iva is featured heavily in the intros both on synths and in the background. Payne’s vocals sound like his usual fare on this track, but the additions and the pacing indicate the first signs of change.
The pace gets picked up even more with “Enter the Third Dimension” as Payne sings fast and the band plays faster. “Disconnected Frequency” and “Economy Lobotomy” both build on the dance aspects of this punk album. In the latter song, Iva’s vocals are more prominent and the track sounds much more psychedelic with the band’s added synths.
The chorus for “Opinion” is ridiculously catchy while the song riffs off some hipster apathy. The echo effects on “We Want More” are equally as infectious, and the album really hits its stride in the middle of this ten-song set.
After the fun of “We Want More,” “Suit Lie” feels like it’s missing that extra bit of kick the band has proven they’re capable of, while “The Curse of the Curse” falls somewhere in the middle. “Electric Mutation” and “Do You Wrong” pick it up again, but with Payne handling all the vocals, it feels like he’s afraid of straying too far from Zebrassieres’ old sound.
There’s something happening with Payne and Ketamines that’s full of potential—Iva and Payne’s vocals complement each other perfectly, and the balance between punk and dance that they’re finding is stellar. While not every song on the album takes advantage of the new opportunities this musical amalgamation makes possible, it’s an indicator of great things to come if the band can simply run with it.
Top Tracks: “Opinion”; “We Want More”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)