REVIEW: Zula - Grasshopper

Will Shenton

Zula's latest LP, Grasshopper, is a triumph of genre-blending pop. Latin beats are drenched in reverb-soaked psychedelia, math-rock intricacies meet soulful grooves, and all of it is wrapped in the playful weirdness of contemporary indie experimentation. It's one of those albums you can't help but obsess over, because every listen reveals new layers of detail.

Take the appropriately blunt "Fuck This," for example. The track opens with a slightly off-kilter beat in 5 (I think? I'm no music theorist), reminiscent of Battles and their experimental ilk, before transitioning seamlessly into a dreamy, almost celestial verse. It's a song that, much like Grasshopper as a whole, grows and evolves rather than cyclically repeating. It eschews predictability without ever being hard to follow, and by the end we're given another glimpse of that opening beat to bookend the digression—as if to reassure the listener that, yes, every move here is carefully considered.

I'm reminded of Superhuman Happiness, the ensemble group whose 2015 album Escape Velocity was similarly robust and capricious. Zula is clearly a band that isn't satisfied with the status quo, yet one that also knows how to craft genuinely listenable tunes. It's rare to call anything this experimental an earworm, but Grasshopper is a surprisingly catchy record. It has something for everyone, from the risk-averse pop-head to the eccentric audiophile, and it feels like neither facet is sacrificed for its counterpart. Sometimes, great songwriting can bridge the gaps between even the most unlikely audiences.