Ed Zealous's long-awaited debut album features a cluster of great tracks but feels out of place in 2014, writes Andrew Lemon
Belfast-based electro-pop quartet Ed Zealous will be familiar to most regular gig-goers in the city. Having been active for the better part of a decade, the band have built up a pretty loyal fan base, and it's testament to their enduring popularity that many other bands who started on the circuit around the same time have since fallen away.
Despite a string of single releases during that lengthy period, however, Wired arrives as the band's debut full length album. What is even more surprising – and disappointing – is that Wired comes across as the work of a band who have made no effort to keep up with changes in musical trends or tastes.
That said, the album is nothing if not full on, and a more aptly named electro album you will surely not find all year. Opener '147' plants its flag firmly in indie disco territory, with synth waves flanking Stephen McAvoy's frenzied deliveries: 'I think I've hit the ceiling of my feelings... Think about the after-party every now and then... I'm feeling right.'
Similar enhanced moments of euphoria feature throughout the album, and serve to underline what an intense listen Wired can be. The thumping 'Telepaths' finds McAvoy in gravity-defying mood – 'I'm dancing on the ceiling, that telepathic feeling. I'm alive' – and maintains the frantic pace, which never really lets up.
Whilst Ed Zealous have stuck to a genre and a style that they clearly have a fondness for, there is no doubt that a little variation would have made Wired a much more digestible listen. Yet there are a cluster of great tracks here.
Live favourite 'Thanks A Million' is the one point on the album where everything comes together – from drummer Paul Irwin and bassist Pete Lloyd's tight interplays to McAvoy's pleasantly emo vocals, it's a brilliantly toe-tappable guilty pleasure. Similarly, recent single 'Diamonds for Eyes' is a multi-layered triumph.
With a killer hook that Two Door Cinema would be proud of, and a clearly defined verse, chorus and climax, it's one of a handful of tracks that invite you to imagine how impressive Ed Zealous could be if only they were to step out of their comfort zone and experiment. They obviously have the talent to do so.
As it is, there are too many moments on Wired that bring to mind forgotten bands from the graveyard of indie disco's past – and not in a wistful, teary-eyed sort of way. Despite its crisp production, Wired feels like an album that is stuck in the mid-1990s, a debut that unfortunately does not stand out in a market place bloated with more original takes on the form.
Even the bands who frequently get referenced on Wired – Daft Punk, Hot Fuss-era Killers, for example – have moved on from the sounds that Ed Zealous are still enamoured with; the latter currently enjoying a Springsteen-inspired revival, the former indulging in over-the-top, mainstream disco ginormo-albums, which only serves to underline the impression that Wired feels slightly out of place for an album released in 2014.
Wired is available to download now.