Discovering Zooey – An Indie Surprise

Written by: Casey Lightford, Edited by: Brian King

The year is only just beginning in terms of music. January is usually dead, lacking in new releases from more popular artists. However, indie music is different. January may be the perfect time to release an album when listeners want to discover something new.

Enter Zooey with their debut album The Drifters. No, this isn’t Zooey Deschanel, nor is it the original Drifters from the 1950s. Zooey in an intriguing indie electronica-pop band from London. That’s a mouthful, I know–stay with me though. My recent discovery of this group was happenstance. I don’t usually go finding new music on iTunes browser, but with a band named Zooey, I thought this could be different.

I’ll be honest, upon seeing their name, I asked myself, “Who would name themselves Zooey since Ms. Deschanel is already a music figure with She & Him?” To my surprise, the first song on the album put me in a speechless dance. Before moving forward, please listen to “Realise Realise”:

It is hard to describe how mellow this song is while it also incites an embarrassing dance. The soft organ tones and simple drumbeat create a simplistic, minimalist idea of electronica-pop. Matthieu Beck’s calm voice is soothing while the chorus flows through Marie Merlet’s poppy vocals. Lyrically, “Realise Realise” is simple, humbling, and repetitive; that’s not a bad thing, either. The important part about this song is its chorus. Musically, it is more advanced than many indie bands I listen to on a whim. The chords and dissonance throughout the chorus are magnificent. Each hit between the electric organ and synth push this song to the next level.

My expectations were high after the first song. Could “Time To Get Alone” be any better? Immensely.

I was not prepared for this next song. I thought I knew what to expect from Zooey after the first song on the album, but “Time To Get Alone” makes “Realise Realise” sound like a lesser tier. It starts with drums–okay, very similar to their first song. Enter the ‘80s synths–alright, getting better. Now, for the bass and harmonies–WHOA, DID THAT JUST HAPPEN? This process made me have to rewind the track on first listen. This song is something special.

The simplistic lyrics personified with a backing organ and sporadic synth drives this song. The funky beat makes me look like a mad man while driving around bobbing my head. The music break with its sweet harmonies is incredible since they don’t stray away from chord progressions that make newer bands tremble. Zooey takes it far with this song, and never looks back.

The rest of The Drifters is a strong record overall. It has some misses in its songs for me, but I’ll forever remember those two dominant songs. I will always keep an eye on this band because of how much they shocked me. I want to mention one small discussion I had with a music enthusiast. We discovered that what Zooey was doing sounds new, fresh, and could be something more with the right crowds. For example, if Daft Punk had a similar sound and funk that sounds similar to this album, it would be praised. That’s a huge comparison, I know, but I feel more bands like this need to be recognized for something mainstream bands are accomplishing afterwards. They are trying things outside the norm and making music how they envision. I truly believe that good things will come from Zooey. I wish them the best and plan to follow their adventure in this kooky indie music culture.

Zooey's Matthieu Beck and Marie Merlet sitting on the couch
Zooey’s Marie Merlet and Matthieu Beck

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