Blue Zoo

2 by 2

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Blue Zoo's stylistic smorgasbord on 2 by 2 is an acquired taste. Anybody who purchases the LP because of the hyper "Cry Boy Cry" should not expect to hear another song like it on the album; similarly, the moody ballad "Love Moves in Strange Ways" would sound out of place if the rest of 2 by 2 isn't so wildly eclectic. Even Andy O's voice is unpredictable, veering from high-pitched shrieking to mournful crooning. Nevertheless, this is a surprisingly cohesive experiment in unrestrained genre shifting; Blue Zoo ecstatically leap from glum balladry to funk to minimalist punk rock and actually concoct absorbing, colorful pop that hooks listeners while bewildering them. "Love Moves in Strange Ways," with its tumbling percussion, eerie synths, spiky acoustic riffs, and O's heart-rending wailing, is an undiscovered classic. The simple, straightforward lyrics in the track vividly illustrate a romantic relationship shattering; the raw emotion in Andy O's voice when he bellows "Why are you leaving me?" is startling. From the sleazy disco of "I'm Your Man" to the Wire-like skeletal arrangements and sinister half-spoken, half-sung dialogue of "Open Up," this album has the variety of a well-selected mix tape. For those brave enough to digest Blue Zoo's fickle tastes, 2 by 2 is a bracing adventure.

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