Simple Things, by Zero 7
Suggested by Mike Wootton
Izabella Scorupoco, the Polish-Swedish actress famous for her role as Bond Girl Natalya Simonova in the 1995 Bond fil Goldeneye, is attributed with the following quote:
“The most simple things can bring the most happiness.”
I’m sorry, Izzy love, but you’ve obviously never heard of the Playstation 5.
There’s a fetishization of so-called “simple pleasures” by a subset of humanity that verges on zealotry.
“If you want to see true beauty,” someone will bleat, “you’ll see it in a single rose. You can’t beat that.” Yes I can, mate. I can Google Image Search the Chelsea Flower Show.
“What about the laughter of a child?” they’ll respond. “That’s pure, and simple, and perfect.” That’s as may be, but they’re likely laughing as they execute a perfect headshot on Fortnite, and that’s a far from simple achievement.
“A sunrise!” they’ll conclude, in desperation. “That’s a simple thing that can bring pleasure to everyone!” Yeah, right. I used to live near a fat rendering plant, and it was such a simple pleasure watching the sun rise through the fragrant bacon haze of burning flesh.
On their 2001 debut album, the electronica duo Zero 7 promised to bring us Simple Things. Are the songs therein indicative of such pleasures, or are they stunted by simplicity and pleading to be Progged up?
Simple Things starts well, with the smooth and funky I Have Seen. The bassline in this song is the driving force, and this proves to be a feature of the album as a whole. The vocal on I Have Seen is supplied by Mozez, which is pure Slade-Does-the-Bible, and he does a decent turn at the mic.
Over the twelve low-key and (dare I say) ambient tracks, the mellifluous duo at the help bring a handful of guest vocalists to the fore. There’s the aforementioned Mozez, the pleasant Sophie Barker, and the fringed miracle that is Sia. Predictably, it’s the Sia tracks that bring the most life and zing out of Zero 7’s downtempo chill-out beats. Of particular interest is my standout Destiny, a summer-style jazzy number that conjures up All Saints’ Pure Shores. It also gives us the frankly confusing image of Sia watching porn in her hotel room, wearing a dressing gown.
Interspersed with the six tracks sporting guest vocals are six instrumentals, each not so much presenting as suggesting music to our ears. These instrumentals lack the polished poise of those with vocals, but they are still crafted, composed and cool. I particularly enjoy the urban evening feel of Out of Town, but there’s enough intrigue in each to merit multiple listens.
Some albums rap on your door like a bailiff with a court order, while others slide an I-came-while-you-were-out card through your letterbox before slinking away. Simple Things is a beautiful and unassuming example of the latter, scoring an understated 8/10 from me.