The summer is usually gives way to cheery vibes, school’s out, beaches are open, sun’s out for 13+ hours, but that’s not always the case. Named after Arizona iced teas, Zona (via Citrus City Records) is Young Scum’s latest that ventures into the typical shitty details of being a twenty-something, fallout in relationships, unfulfilling career situations, and eating the pain away with tacos. The Richmond, VA-based four-piece initially served as a solo project for frontman Chris Smith. Linking up with his eventual bandmates (Taylor Haag, Ben Mecalf, and Brian Dove), the group’s sound settled into a cohesive blend of Slumberland-pop and perpetual melancholy.
Primp with agile guitars, “If You Say That” evokes the bearish summertime break-up. Sounding like a winsome Michael Stipe nosing in OG emo, Smith throws on his best Morrissey with lines such as “I wish it would rain so I can stay inside”. It’s anxious lyrics juxtapose the blithe instrumentation that alludes to the casual pop of the Teenage Fanclub. The title-track continues the trend of unseasonal gloom with wistful thinking (“summertime and I think I’ve lost it / moving too slow to find it / is it okay to hate nostalgia?”) and bright yet melancholic melodies. Moving through the seasons, Smith looks forward to the end of the summer on “Old U”. The track looks back at old version of friends and frowning on change with shifty guitars and brittle percussion.
The penultimate track, “Sun Drop”, bursts open with downward instrumentation accented with a little bit of math rock. Unlike with warm weather, Smith seems to welcome the winter months, as everyone could wallow in the same misery. Angst tumbling in the crisp jangle, there’s still traces of summer in the instrumentation despite the tale of winter love. The record closes with the band’s most rock-sounding track, “Out of State”. Feedback lapsing into testy pop guitars, the closer revels in the understated angst that’s shadowed much of the EP.
A straightforward pop record, Zona is ideal for recouping feelings from the summertime heartbreak or getting through the rough parts of getting old.
Cereal Breakfast Pairing: Breakfast tacos for the pain