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  Oceania, I Will Return  
  The Year Zero  

Skipping Stone Records

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The Year Zero is a two-piece synthpop shoegazer pop band from California. Well, TYZ is less a band, and more of a collaboration between two established artists who have come together to craft this lovely record. I hope that the collaboration continues, because the music here is very enjoyable.

Lili de la Mora sings in a light soprano and strumms her guitar over cheesy synth beats while Rodney Sellars saws away at his guitar under a mass of distortion. That is a rough summary of the 12 songs on this record. I guess you could say it is the theme of The Year Zero. It's their shtick. But there is a lot more going on here. Really.

For example, on Skyway Racer, Sellars takes the lead vocal, burying his voice under a thick echo. Combined with the chiming arpeggios he plays, the steady synth beat, and de la Mora's insistent rhythm guitar, this song treads very close to Jesus and Mary Chain territory.

Anthem features My Bloody Valentine-levels of feedback, the guitar squealing its way around her voice. And on Holland, Say Hello, there is a faint keyboard-y sound, kind of like what MBV were able to do with intense distortion. The drum beat in this song is really strong, and de la Mora's voice, which is wispy to begin with, sounds slightly echoed.

And then there is Lost In a World, which is a rocking instrumental. It features furious guitars, both of them really giving their strings a workout, and thudding drum beats. It rocks rather nicely.

The standout track, however, is The Truth About Stars (which was also on their debut EP, 3 Songs). On this tune, de la Mora strums away happily while Sellars adds a lovely counterpoint melody. They both sing here, harmonizing very well.

Overall i think that The Year Zero sound is fleshed out better on this album than it was on the EP. Now, i liked the EP, but i can see how it could get old to some people. Here they are branching out, trying new things, playing within the boundaries of shoegaze. And they do it well.

According to their MySpace Page, they have fleshed out the band with a rhythm section, something which could only improve these already fun songs.

I look forward to hearing more from The Year Zero

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Also on EvilSponge, a review of the 3 Songs EP.

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