The band Zero 7 was forged from duo Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker, who worked at a studio in London. They received their reputation through remixing the Radiohead song “Climbing Up The Walls” that led to them having guest vocalists Sia, Mozez, and Sophie Barker to help them out with their debut album Simple Things.
Roughly half of the music on Simple Things is instrumental. The instrumentals are almost like a smoothie fruit drink. It’s sweet with a rich blend of flavors that gives away a great kick. There are really nice arrangements in the production that mixes genres together such as jazz, funk, and soul.
The tracks that have vocals are just as impressive. The vocals feel very soulful from every guest vocalist. The singing really is the main attraction to this album. Sia guest stars on the track “Destiny,” which is a major highlight in the album. Her voice streams into the track with a soothing tone, singing “When I’m weak / I draw strength from you / and when you’re lost / I know how to change your mood.” Her lyrics, though not spellbinding, are still a wonderful listen. Overall the lyrics are a very relaxing experience.
There are two major problems with Simple Things and one of them has to do with originality. It’s been stated by music critics and fans that Zero 7 sounds like the French band Air. This has brought some ridicule on Zero 7. There are some similarities between the two bands, though if any listener hears these two groups then it’s obvious that Zero 7 sounds much more relaxing compared to some of Air’s songs. Still it does sting a bit when one realizes how some of their mixes do sound eerily similar.
I think another main problem with Simple Things is that Zero 7 really doesn’t push any boundaries in this album. It feels like they decided to play it safe and not take any risks with their debut album, bringing out rhythmic tunes that don’t really go anywhere. I’ll admit there was never a time when I was listening to this where I thought the music was heading in an awful direction. Yet there weren’t any moments where the music went in an incredible direction either. Though not very original and a little bland at times, the album is still enjoyable.
Simple Things is an interesting journey. Though there are flaws on this album, the vocals and the instrumentals are great and they stream together with ease. The listener won’t find any deep instrumental virtuosos in this LP. But this is still a solid-crafted album filled with nice jazz tunes and great vocals. It’s the perfect background music; an album that may not be masterful, but is still a wonderful pleasure.