Zeus: Say Us

Fans of Sloan and New Pornographers should warm immediately to Zeus, a Toronto rock quartet featuring multiple singer-songwriters, each with a facility for grand-sounding songs and long-line melodies. Moonlighting from their gig as Jason Collett’s backing band, Zeus’ members use their debut LP Say Us to show off their chops and their musical interests, producing an eclectic set of songs unified mainly by brisk tempos, tinny piano, cooing harmonies, and guitars that shift easily from deep twang to dreamy slide. Say Us wears its influences openly—it’s a blend of The Beatles, Harry Nilsson, E.L.O., Big Star, and Beach Boys—but jumbles them together cleverly, forging a sound that’s busy and bright, like an amusement park for power-pop fans. At times, the influences fight each other too much, rendering the songs likeable but indistinct. But the mid-tempo ballad “I Know” (with its effortless guitar fillips and mournful brass hangings), the gospel-tinged “The River By The Garden” (which starts like a spare Johnny Cash song, then sounds a triumphant wail), and “Kindergarten” (with its Roy Orbison-esque slow-build and cautionary tone) are all the work of musicians who deserve to move from the side of the stage to the front.

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