Seven years on, fourth album in, and the Levellers sound like...the Levellers, which is no better or worse a fate than most groups have in store for them if whatever formula was established can work. It has to be said, though, that the weird sonic connection to the Mission UK from earlier releases reappears at points -- the opening electric crunch then acoustic swirl of "Hope St." in particular sounds like something Wayne Hussey would have cooked up on Carved in Sand. That said, in the end the Levellers' particular sonic stew really is its own more and more, Chadwick's high, sometimes strained vocals, the reworking of various strands of folk styles, the anthemic pump-your-fist heft of so many of the songs. Al Scott, having done a solid job producing Levelling the Land, does the honors again here -- for all the reputation for raggle-taggle, the Levellers themselves certainly value full-bodied arrangements and results. Friend once again gets a particular chance to shine with some of his smashing rhythm leads and soloing; he may never get the write-ups in guitar magazines, but there's little doubt that his performances on songs like the crashing "4 A.M." and "Fantasy" are strong stuff. This time around, the dancebeats suggest a little less of Madchester's long-dead approach and more of, say, the Afro Celt Sound System, but they're still there, cropping up from time to time but generally giving way for a straight-up rock drive at most points. Fellow aesthetic spirit Rev Hammer gets a nod with a cover of his "Maid of the River," but otherwise it's the Levellers doing their own thing. As a result, the album's as good a starting point as anything they've released, because whatever one's reaction to Zeitgeist is determined by what one thinks of all the other albums.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett