Go Back to the Zoo

Benny Blisto

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The Netherlands' Go Back to the Zoo won't start a retro fad, despite Benny Blisto trying so hard, but their debut is a worthy, if uneven, alt-rock concoction. Inquisitive minds will be able to catch references to everyone from Sonic Youth to Supergrass and the entire Brit-pop stable, but for the most part, the Strokes are the most evident influence, with the record being a stream of melodic guitar hooks derived from garage rock on the surface, but which evolves into something far more pretty. Considering that even Julian Casablancas and co. weren't always exciting at their thing, and that the hordes of epigones never approached their level, GBTTZ take a risky path, but thankfully, they add more to the mix to stir things up. A couple of moody, low-key tunes walk the fine line between pensive and depressed, never landing on the wrong side and bringing in a pleasant touch of variety, but what really boosts the album is a strong streak of disco-punk in the vein of Electric Six, only without the silly humor, at least to some degree, considering that track titles include "Hey DJ" and "Fuck You" (not to mention the explicitly titled "Electric"), which are as primitive as the titles imply, but also as addictive with their dancey beats over jangly guitars. The hooks on Benny Blisto could still use more work -- despite the band being adept at writing those melodic lines, the songs aren't always very memorable -- but Go Back to the Zoo make up for it with an energetic delivery and produce a record that's genuinely enjoyable throughout, even if it's somewhat easy to tune out of at times.

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