Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer - Schematics (Cover Artwork)

Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer

Schematics (2007)

Flight Plan / Le Pamplemousse

Not to pull any sort of cred-building "they were better back then" kind of shit, but I haven't listened to Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer since Anthony Green's (Saosin, Circa Survive) departure from the band. It's not that I have anything against replacement vocalist Rachel Minton's sassy pop punch (think brass knuckles made out of cotton candy), it's just that Zolof were a band that didn't strike me as anything worth following even when Green was a member. Sure, the songs were some of the most ridiculously catchy things I had ever heard when a friend played me Zolof's debut; Green's voice had a strange child-like charm, while every facet of the music seemed to have been reviewed and edited until it had reached the sort of absolute pop perfection that elicits comparisons to cavity-causing amounts of sugar -- but I never had the urge to go out and get a copy of the record for myself.

That's why I'm sort of surprised by my reaction to Schematics. I don't know whether it's Minton's vocals or the fact that I have a suddenly chipper disposition (and perfect metaphor for Zolof's sound) -- thanks to the fact that after days of nothing but freezing temperatures, snow, and an ash-colored sky the sun is finally out in Cleveland -- but I like what's going on here.

There hasn't been an unabashedly poppy band I've enjoyed in a while and Zolof seems to take elements of those that I've loved in the past. Whether they are reaching back to `80s hit-makers like the Cars or more contemporary acts like Nerf Herder and the Rentals, Zolof seem to be using signposts from my own personal (although sometimes former) pop loves.

You could call this synth-pop thanks to its proliferation of moog, but that would be ignoring the big and fuzzy guitars that recall just why Weezer sounded so good on the Blue Album. Power-pop seems like the safer term to go with here thanks to the sheer amount of decibels used to push these songs through some speakers. This is by no means a quiet band, but instead a four-piece packed full of honest and grinning jubilation like kids hitting the park on a day off from school.

I don't know whether it's worth discussing individual tracks here, and while I mean that in a flattering way -- that is, each track is packed with the same level of high quality music as if they were reviewed by a panel before being placed on the album -- this might also be Schematics' most blatant fault. Each song sort of follows the beat of the same overly enthusiastic drummer. Even tracks that start slower or quieter end up going for the red by the time the chorus hits, showing that the energy drinks and ice cream floats never stop flowing for Zolof.

There's nothing wrong with a pop fix, but perhaps that's Zolof's greatest shortcoming. I mean, I could fire off line after line about the amount of hooks here (do you guys like the one about a tackle box or a meat locker better?) or the super sweet tone of the album (I've already used cotton candy, sugar, energy drinks, and ice cream floats), but that's about all I could discuss. Musically, their chops are solid but familiar, and lyrically there may be some clever lines and cute comparisons, but you know melody, not lyrical content, is number one for this band. In the end, I know it's only power-pop, but I kind of like it.