Apr 11, 2014

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3 Songs: “The Zolas Are Unreasonably Good at Their Jobs, Part 2” edition

I talked about why I love this Vancouver duo in Part 1, so there’s not much more to say in terms of an introduction. I did review The Zolas’ second album, Ancient Mars, way back last year; I wrote at length about “Cold Moon” and “Cultured Man”, two of my favourite songs from it, so I don’t really want to repeat myself too much. So here’s my thoughts on three other outstanding Zolas songs.

Ancient Mars

The title song of The Zolas’ sophomore album touches on three of my favourite topics: time travel, dead worlds, and campus libraries. It may sound crass that The Zolas are using an ancient planet as a metaphor for lost love, but it works far better than logic would dictate. “Several billion golden years ago / I lost a planet that I loved to the cold; / Civilization blooms and then it erodes / and I’d say oh, my Ancient Mars,” Gray mourns, and nerdy music fans everywhere melt just a little bit.


When they dropped the relatively demure Ancient Mars, The Zolas promised they’d release an electronic track within twelve months. On Ancient Mars‘ anniversary in October 2013 they stayed true to their word and put out the digital track “Invisible”, a danceable rock tune that combines the energetic pacing of Tic Toc Tic with the distanced vocal style that dominated Ancient Mars. I wouldn’t necessarily call “Invisible” an electronic song—there are no synthesizers to be found—but it’s the type of tune that is easily remixed and wouldn’t be too out of place at one of the more pretentious dance clubs. If the chorus doesn’t get your foot tapping just a little, you should check your pulse because you may be dead.

Cadaverous Night

I feel like I’m betraying some kind of secret with this entry, but GOD I can’t help it. I hope the Zolas aren’t ashamed of this song (though I don’t know why they would be, because it’s amazing), but I’m baffled as to why I’ve never seen them play it or had any inkling that it existed until a few weeks ago. I found it buried in the CFUV music library; it’s the bonus track on the You’re Too Cool EP, dating back to before Tic Toc Tic. It’s so secret, in fact, that I can’t actually find a link to it online.


Well anyway, you’ll have to listen to my radio show to hear it, because you can damn well bet that “Cadaverous Night” will be part of my regular rotation now. It’s got the whirling carnivalesque lyrics, the unexpected musical transitions, and the frenetic sense of urgency that embody the best Zolas songs. “You can’t buy love,” Zachary Gray intensely growls towards the end of the song, as the piano builds into a percussive cabaret-style climax, followed just as suddenly by a sharp cutoff. I don’t know why they’ve forgotten about this song; it’s at least as good as “Marionettes” and “You Better Watch Out”. For now, it remains a gleeful discovery.

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