The Rocket Summer
Two seemingly incompatible things are true about Zoetic. This isn’t the same The Rocket Summer you’re familiar with; however, the things you’ve always like about Bryce Avary are what make his sixth album his best yet. Let me explain: this isn’t your older sibling’s ‘Summer. Gone (mostly) are piano ballads, yet many of these songs still burst forth with exuberant endings. Most of this album is fairly upbeat and fits in very well with the definition of “zoeitc”: of or relating to life. There’s an essential vigor that makes the band’s sixth record such an unabashedly joyous listen throughout. Bryce clearly is in a good place, and that plays out throughout the record.
But what does it sound like? That’s half of the fun of Zoetic, that there is a surprising variety to the songs. For the most part, the album sticks to a mix between pop and indie rock, but there is a much greater emphasis on electronics, and I swear there is even some Nine Inch Nail influence (no joke). It’s still filtered through a Prozac, so the result is a more manufactured happiness. Imagine Foster the People or Passion Pit filtered through Michael Jackson. It sounds crazy to think that it’s the same guy behind the music, but if you listen carefully to Bryce’s best work (particularly Of Men and Angels), his songwriting basics and ability to distill joy (and other positive emotions) into sonic form hasn’t changed; just the vehicle The Rocket Summer uses is more upbeat and hip than past records.
The best part? These songs are Typhoid Mary-level catchy, in large part because of the liveliness inherent in them. This is undoubtedly The Rocket Summer’s best release, and it’s an album no one expected, especially four years after Bryce’s last work. It’s an album that feels true to what The Rocket Summer have always done, yet it shows off a wonderful sense of sonic daring and zeal. (Nicholas Senior)