WEB EXCLUSIVE: Particle Zoo sounds great

Matthew Carroll

While a title like Loneliness and Strangers makes this album sound like little more than a melancholy sob-fest, don’t let that fool you into thinking that this record does not know how to have a good time. In fact, a sizable chunk of this album is spent on some sunlit hill where bouncy keyboards dance around upbeat guitar rhythms, and the wind carries melodies about little birdies and a meandering blue walrus.

Unfortunately, much like that meandering walrus who “comes and goes, but never stays too long,” this 13 song effort from New Jersey band Particle Zoo wanders aimlessly in and out of musical styles, never staying in one spot long enough for the listener to get comfortable.

The album kicks off with the Fastball-inspired “Girasole” followed by the quirky “Freaky Fat Tuesday” and “Pi in the Sky.” Then, suddenly, the band decides to do some manic genre-hopping for the next 3 or 4 tracks.

“Blue Walrus” is a blues-tinged ditty; “Toe in the Grave” could easily pass for rockabilly and “Mistakes” is pure generic ’90s rock.

It’s at this point that the album finally starts to find its groove. The swinging Mates of State-style first verse of “Permanently Temporary” segues into a riff-laden chorus that could easily pass as a Cream B-side track.

It is apparent that Particle Zoo is still trying to find their musical niche. There are a couple of decent tracks, but the band tries to incorporate too many of their influences onto the same disc. It makes for music that is too nostalgic to sound original. But if they can find their voice, this band will certainly find success.

– Matthew Carroll