Zox - The Wait (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


The Wait (2005)


It's a real pet peeve of mine when bands make it a special point to advertise an unusual instrument being played on their record, then do very little with it. If it's important enough to tell that there's cello on an indie rock album, there had damn well better be great integration of that cello. I'm not talking 15 seconds at the end of one song, I'm talking about it being a very present force in the recording process. Zox have gone out of their way to make it known that their brand of indie rock features a violin, and even went so far as to say the album is "violin-driven."

Does it live down the hype? It definitely tries. And I want to say the band uses the violin to its full potential, but the fact really is that it just doesn't happen.

I'm not saying the band ignores the violin, because that's simply way off base, but the songs aren't driven by it as was implied. There's definitely enough to keep things diverse, and keep things flowing well, but some songs don't implement it quite as well as others do. Maybe I'm being unfair, and expecting a little bit much. Let me retract a little bit on the violin gripes I have. The amount of violin usage that the band works into their songs leaves no complaints to be made, but rather my issue is with how hard it can be on occasion to hear it at all. Granted it's hard to hear a string instrument like that over an electric guitar, but some more low-tempo songs like "Anything But Fine" definitely wouldn't have hurt. Lead singer Eli Miller's tremendous voice is shone in the brightest light during songs like that, and that's saying something, because his vocals are on point through every single song. And just as on point are the great rhythms and arrangements they put together.

"Can't Look Down" is a gem of a song that uses the violin just the way it should be, to perfectly accent the vocals and stellar pacing. It might have taken nine songs, but this song in particular shows a band who have perfectly hit their stride. The two songs that follow are also great examples of the kind of things the band is actually capable of, especially with the closer, "I Am Only Waiting." The slow, plodding track with a thick bass groove eventually gives way to the best guitar work the album has to offer, and an increasingly speedy chord progression. It seems to be the album's theme, just getting better and better as it moves along, and even the lyrics seem to follow suit. Most of the lyrical matter dealt with is of the relationship type, be those personal or romantic, but since they're approached from a mature standpoint, a listener would be all the more inclined to take them into account.

Far from perfect, Zox save their best music for last. And while they do undeniably take a while to warm up, the journey to get there is well worth taking. Terrific melodies, solid arrangements, and for the most part they do a fine job of incorporating the violin. If you're looking for a Yellowcard clone, turn around now, because this is a band with things to say, and a strong voice for the job.