CD Review of Tired of Hanging Around by The Zutons

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Tired of Hanging Around
starstarstarstarno star Label: Columbia
Released: 2006

You might be tempted to pity the Zutons. After all, they arrived on these shores from the UK at approximately the same time as Franz Ferdinand…but while “Take Me Out” became an anthem so popular that it ended up in the polka medley on “Weird Al” Yankovic’s latest album, the Zutons’ “Pressure Point” ended up as little more than a blip on the American consciousness, and that’s mostly because it appeared in a Levi’s ad. Still, when you consider that the Delays had “Long Time Coming” featured in a Zales commercial and couldn’t even get their second album released here, the mere fact that the Zutons’ sophomore effort, Tired of Hanging Around, gets a Stateside release means that, all things considered, they really aren’t doing too badly.

It’s a shame that America’s prone to only embracing one or two British bands at any given time, because, when examined closely, the Zutons actually stand out from the pack, Their ‘60s-influenced tunes are driven as much by funky horns as guitars, lead vocalist Dave McCabe occasionally lets saxophonist Abi Harding join him at the microphone (as on the slightly creepy duet, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”), and they score instant street cred amongst the Britpop crowd by having their album produced by the legendary Stephen Street (Morrissey, Blur, the Cranberries). Wow, Ian Broudie produced the debut, Stephen Street’s produced the sophomore effort…who’ll be behind the board for the third album, Steve Lillywhite?

But, seriously, Street does something on Tired of Hanging Around that Broudie didn’t do: he makes the Zutons stand out from their fellow Scousers, the Coral. That Liverpool accent’s still there, but the horns are more prominent this time around; the flourish of trumpets on “Secrets” is particularly notable, but they’re all over the place, including the musically upbeat but lyrically depressing “Oh Stacey (Look What You’ve Done).” Yes, like all the best pop groups – and I use that term with all due respect – the Zutons know the value of including a girl’s name in their song titles; as such, we also get a track entitled “Valerie.”

There are a lot of songs that you can only imagine would be major rave-ups in concert, but the one in particular that you can imagine the punters hoisting their pint glasses aloft for is “It’s The Little Things We Do,” which has a chorus that could well make it a day-after anthem for drinkers everywhere:

It’s the little things we do when you go out in the night
And it’s pay day today just for having a good time
As your hangover unfolds, well, the questions will arrive:
“Why do I feel like death just for having a good time?”

Far from a sophomore slump, Tired of Hanging Around finds the Zutons creating a sound that’s recognizably theirs. If they’re still obscure here in the States after this, it’s our fault, not theirs.

~Will Harris