Listen to this song by Liverpudlian rock-pop heroes The Zutons. It’s their UK hit from 2006 “Valerie”, as taken from their second album Tired Of Hanging Around, what an R&B-flavoured burst of poptastic charm it is, too! This soul/indie-stew may come from the fact that this band has an element once very popular, and now rare in rock-pop outfits – a full-time sax player!
This band comes out of an area of the world known to produce hook-laden pop music as if it’s a cash crop – the North-West of England, and even more specifically, Liverpool. Not even mentioning a certain world-changing quartet, this city has produced some of the most influential bands of more recent eras including Echo & the Bunnymen, The La’s, The Pale Fountains, Shack, The Coral, and the Lightning Seeds, among many others. Indeed, head Lightning Seed Ian Broudie produced their first album in 2004, Who Killed the Zutons, nominated for the coveted Mercury Music Prize that year.
The thing I notice about this band, and this track in general is the fact that it diverges quite a lot from typical jangly guitar pop out of Liverpool. This isn’t the Beatle-esque power pop song you might expect. To me, it seems to have soul music at its heart more so than Revolver, with guitarist/vocalist David McCabe’s passionate, belting voice, punctuated by saxophonist Abi Harding’s abrasive horn stabs. The overall construction of this tune is downright funky, with the on beats and off-beats kind of pulling and pushing as the song rolls along.
One criticism that indie guitar music gets is the lack of sweat to be found in it, that spark of physicality. With this tune, you get plenty, and is a case for the fact that just because a band hails from a certain region famous for a sound, it doesn’t mean that one can’t be pleasantly surprised by a shattered expectation. Of course, this band was dropped from their label at one point, an indication that record labels still don’t get it.
For more information about this band, make sure and visit the Zutons on MySpace.
And for real time updates, make sure and follow David McCabe on Twitter @davezuton