Review: Zebrahead - Phoenix
Label: Icon Records
Released: August 5, 2008
There are great albums that are definitive in their genre, essential to their scene or even influential across the full spectrum of rock music. Then, there are (possibly) great albums cultivated on ground made fertile by their more innovative predecessors. Can they really be called great? Who's to say for sure, but there are some at least that knock so heartily on the door of greatness, that it seems unimaginable that they would not be let in. Phoenix is one of those albums.
Zebrahead doesn't do much that hasn't been done before. At their worst moments, their energetic pop punk gets a little bit too close to the Offspring...but in their prime. In their better moments, Zebrahead infuses pop-punk, an increasingly dull and placid genre, with passion and excitement and better hooks to boot (check out "Death By Disco" if you doubt it). Drawing at times on hip-hop and electro-punk, neither of which is a new idea, they incorporate the sounds much more seamlessly than the genre-cut-and-paste games played by many of their peers.
Phoenix is not an album about brave new musical horizons and perhaps that will lead to diminishing critical returns over time. But right now, it's a must hear record for anyone who ever even had an inclination to like pop punk. It's towering energy might just make you forget that it's all been done before, but forgetting might not matter, because new or not, it's seldom been done better.
If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.