sat 20/07/2024

CD: The Rezillos - Zero | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Rezillos - Zero

CD: The Rezillos - Zero

Long-time-coming second album from Scottish punk rock originals

Kitsch and colourful comeback

There’s a particular sound that the best 1970s British punk rock has, scuzzy, scorched riffage emulating Chris Thomas’s multi-layered guitar production for the Sex Pistols. The Rezillos had it and they still have it. This is their first album since their 1978 debut, Can’t Stand The Rezillos, and it sounds as if it was made the following year rather than three-and-a-half decades later.

The Rezillos, from Edinburgh, never embraced punk’s fury, nihilism or politics but, coming on like The Ramones crossed with The B52s, they fetishised sci-fi retro kitsch, looking a riot of quiffs, mod-ish ties, wrap-around shades, and lurid plastic clothing.

As ever, the band centres on Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife whose singing and vocal sparring provides the songs with a zany kind of drama. They kick off with the rampaging “Groovy Room” which borrows its riff from The Ruts’ “Babylon’s Burning” but sounds more like an on-form Cramps goofing about. There are at least two love songs to aliens with suitably bizarre lyrical couplets, such as “Tiny boy from outer space/I really love your flattened face” (from the weirdly effective slowie “Tiny Boy”).

Along the way forays are made into Eighties hair metal on “Life’s a Bitch”, which sounds like W.A.S.P. or Twisted Sister, straightforward punk rock is embraced (“You’re So Deep”), as is twangy garage rock (“Spike Heel Assassin”), and the oddball experimentalism of the title track has a punchy heft. Particularly notable, also, is the dynamic and tuneful amphetamine beat pop of “She’s the Bad One".

I have a soft spot for this sort of music. I was sustained and nourished during the musical drought of the mid-Eighties by defunct, forgotten punk acts that I discovered in second hand record shops. I have no illusions that Zero is going to revitalize a general appreciation of The Rezillos but, like the consistently entertaining but under-appreciated output of The Damned or Motörhead, for those that like this sort of thing there’s much here that’s raucously welcome.

Overleaf: Watch the video for "No.1 Boy"

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