The Zincs Black Pompadour

Led by British lyricist James Elkington, Chicago’s the Zincs present a diverse musical palette on their latest experimental pop record. The band’s arrangements readily recall the sunnier aspects of XTC and, however obliviously, the Zincs appear to share the same muse as Vancouver’s Buttless Chaps. Elkington’s deep baritone is playfully dour on the surf rock-inspired "Coward’s Corral” and "Hamstrung and Juvenile,” which, despite its edges (and one of three guest vocal appearances by Edith Frost), actually conjures up the AM radio friendliness of Chicago. Recorded and overseen by John McEntire, the full, clean clarity of Black Pompadour is a departure of sorts for the Zincs, whose dusty acoustic leanings have morphed into an exploratory rock sound that’s bolstered by keyboards and flashes of noise experimentation. The epic "The Mogul’s Wives” is a brilliant dose of the band’s progression that flashes back to Pavement’s heady mid-’90s output, while "Burdensome Son” is their own tribute to Brubeck’s "Take Five.” Alternately fun and challenging, Black Pompadour is an excellent contemporary indie pop record by the Zincs, who have hit their stride and then some. (Thrill Jockey)