With their self-titled debut back in 2010, Fenech Soler's lively, synth-driven indie pop sound certainly made an impression: pulsating beats, catchy hooks and sing-a-long lyrics made it difficult not to be captivated by their sound. But it's now seven years later and the band are two founding members down - so have they managed to retain their original appeal?
Opening track "Kaleidoscope" starts off at a moderate pace, but the punchier beats of the chorus help liven up proceedings and make it more engaging. This song sets the tone, with the successive "On Top" and "Conversation" following a similar pattern - softer verses and a reliance on stirring choruses with catchy, toe-tapping rhythms to help retain the listener's attention. However, "Zilla I" takes an entirely different turn, comprising a slow and subdued piano-based interlude that's punctuated with other low-key instruments (hello, glockenspiel). It's pleasant enough, but is such a contrast to the band's usual sound and style that you're left wondering what the thinking behind this track was and why they decided to include it on the record.
Alternately, "Night Time TV" offers a consistently buoyant pace and the album definitely benefits from this pick-me-up. Fewer vocals of more repetitive lyrics and an extended instrumental also create a more dance-based feel that makes you want to get up and move. Meanwhile, the frenzied synths that peak at the start of "Grace" before falling off and gradually rebuilding into a wonderfully chaotic plethora of layered electro threads make for a wholly engaging listen. Somewhat unfortunately, this buzz is lost as quickly as it appeared, with the following song "Cold Light" being one of the slower and more forgettable on this 12-long tracklist.
Overall, "Zilla" is a bit of a mixed offering. The bubbly synth-pop that permeated Fenech Soler's earlier material is still present but, generally, the vitality and intensity that their earlier songs exuded and which successfully drew in the listener has gone somewhat by the wayside. A couple of songs still possess this, but it's not quite enough to fight the urge to occasionally hit the skip button for an album you know will captivate throughout. The potential for some great tracks to be produced certainly remains - it's just a case of whether the remaining duo can recreate the energy that four band members provided and bring this back into their next release.