A+ A-

Zigtebra - "Major Crush" album review

Once upon a time, long ago, I booked a show for a goofy band called Zigtebra. Zigtebra is a Chicago-based synth-pop duo. Every time they come through Pittsburgh, it's some kind of political holiday. The first show was Flag Day of 2013, and we had a potluck at Roboto with some fun decorations created by Steph Neary. Last year, Sorry I'm Dead, my band, played with them at Howlers on the 4th of July. They had tried to come back again this year, but I was busy with Deutschtown Music Festival.

I will say that over time, Zigtebra became a lot more powerful, more "professional", more polished but not boring. The older Zigtebra was goofier and guitarier and reminded me of Jonathan Richman. Now they're doing Purity Ring-style dreamy, electro-pop with synthscapes and TS808-descended beats. And I still like them, because they are still very good. Zigtebra has a new album coming out this month, September 28th, and I was lucky enough to hear it ahead of time. Let's talk about this Major Crush.

"Want You is a bittersweet song, pining for a lost love. It's got an insanely catchy hook, ghostly backing vocals, and a bubble-chewing drum beat. This is will be played over the end credits of a 32-year-old film. "Bring It On" has one of the coolest synth sounds I've ever heard, hollow and wild, an icy-fire. The lyrics have a power fueled by sexual desire or something. "I Can Dance" has a bubbly synth and lyrics about self-esteem thru dance and a positive relationship. It's pretty cheesy but cool. I like the mysterious and suspenseful nature of the vocals from the dance floor. I'm not big on the breakbeat breakdown, but that's life sometimes. "Wildlife" is a quiet song with that crystal sound I talk about a lot. It's a very sweet love song - aww! "If you keep on going, I'll go too!" That's so sweet and good. The beat is very interesting with a cool bass sound and muffled drums. I like the samples that spring from the musical transmission here. "Paradise" is a great end to the first side. More love and all of that with lyrics about being a peanut butter sandwich in addition to a sound like a teen movie ending theme, this song sums it all up. "Be my echo!"

Starting the second side, we, the listeners (I hope you will listen to this album anyway) are told to "Take My Hand" (and that's the band's, not mine - thanks from the management). This song has a sound like a music box with gentle and lush synth waters flowing over the beloved subjects with softly popping bubbles in the air. "I'll Find You" has a sound that combines 80s Madonna and a bit of hip-hop from the past 10 years. That whining horn is so weird and kind of annoying. The lyrics really remind me a lot of Madonna, and the production is excellent on this one. The hypnotic breakdown is my favorite part. That horn is a little annoying, but I feel like sometimes that makes the song too. "Greatest Love" has a vaguely jungle beat and is a little more lo-fi than the earlier tracks. The vocals just manage to crest the wave of the synths once they peak in the chorus. It's very catchy and Ramones-esque in its simplicity. "Wild Child", the penultimate track, is a unique song with a squirmy/slurping synth line and brash lyrics. It's rock 'n' roll with R&B backing vocals. "You're just a soft boy, and I like it tough". This is some cool stuff; Iggy Pop would be proud. Spidery guitars bring in the final track "Cut Me". It's spooky coming down from the skinny limbs of a post-autumnal tree in the night near a bench. "My friends said you were poison". Is this the comedown from the titular Major Crush? A blues letdown destruction, "the only thing you've ever been good at is making me... is making me... bad" the singer wails, hesitating to admit the sinking truth.

Major Crush is an impressive album, telling the tale, emotionally, of a rollercoaster crush, ending in sudden oblivion. "Say goodbye to all of this," one could say here. It came so unexpectedly, and that end made the album perfect. Zigtebra has combined excellent production with deep bass ravines and crystal teardrop highs, clear vocals and the rush of electronics. I enjoyed all of the songs and the concept as a whole. Major Crush releases on September 28th, and you need to listen to it. It gets a Good.