1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 269

Food, by Zico Chain
Suggested by Alex Hill

Initially, I began this review with “I am the chief cook at Chez Stevenson.”

I intended to light-heartedly discuss my minimal prowess in the kitchen, discussing spices, soups and sweetcorn, before sliding effortlessly into a discussion about Food, the album by Zico Chain. I mean, sure, it wasn’t destined to make my Top Ten Best Ever Intros list, but it’s a perfectly adequate starter to segue into the main course.

I know that to be true. Because I did exactly that for the intro to Album 189.

That album, by the JB Conspiracy, was compared to an ingredients list against what I considered a finer dish, that of my favourites Fishbone. So the intro was a more nuanced piece than my proposed “hurr durr this album is called Food” nonsense, but I was much fresher eighty albums ago.

So, how do I rectify the situation…

I’ve never heard of Zico Chain, but after my first listening experience with their second album, Food, I can safely say I’ve heard a lot of them in other bands I enjoy. They produce fine morsels of steady, standard rock that are solid, basic, and sufficiently calorific to keep us sustained. They parlayed their no-nonsense approach into an Opening Act slot on the main stage of Download in 2007, helped in no small part by the song Where Would You Rather Be? with its apropos title. Unfortunately, this proved to be a career highlight, and they faded from view pretty quickly.

Listening to their music, that does seem unfair. It’s well-crafted stuff, and each song has a raw energy that’s infectious and fun. The album rattles along at a fabulous pace, with each song being done in a chart-perfect three minutes thirty seconds or less. Musically, there’s little to get too excited about, as the drums are drummy and the guitars guitar and the vocals vocally. There’s nothing wrong with any of it, but the songwriting is far more impressive than the technical prowess.

There’s a touch of the metal in this rock, and a touch of the grunge too. The singer channels Kurt Cobain’s downplayed emotion at certain points, and Dave Mustaine’s sneering snarl at others. The fuzziness applied to the stringed instruments is also straight off the Seattle streets at times, but there’s little navel-gazing or melancholy here to take us down those dark and hopeless alleyways.

As for songs, there’s a certain sameness to the majority, with only the abovementioned Where Would You Rather Be? and the rather bizarre No Hoper Boy choosing to buck the trend. My favourite track is the fizzing and whizzing Last Week’s Genius, but others will find their gems in different settings.

And that, I feel, is the album’s weakness. Much like this review’s proposed food-based intro, I feel like I’ve heard this all before. I’ll give it a decent 6/10, but I’ll find better songs like this in most of my previous playlists.

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