Zero 7

Zero 7
When British production duo Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker, aka Zero 7 came out with their first LP in 2001, Simple Things, it seemed as though they were taking their cues from French duo Air’s down-tempo gem Moon Safari. Although their relaxed and jazzy debut wanted for originality in places, their new album shows they’ve matured, snuggling right down into the warm analog and live vibes they embraced before. Now it’s a flat out bear hug. The lyricism from the brilliantly well-positioned voices of Mozez, Sophie Baker and the disarming Sia Fuller (the distinctive voice on "Destiny,” a single from the first album) is of such quality that it nearly backgrounds the capable instrumentals. Since these vocalists all return from the first album, it seems as though the record is more of a collaborative band than just a production duo, or even a family — it’s that warm and welcoming. While there isn’t a weak track on the record, the adorable "Somersault” with its mellow keys and crushed out lyrics is a charmer, as is the jangly up-tempo tune "Look Up.” This is the kind of album you grow with; it’s got class to last. It’s not hard to see the leap from album to stage, either.