Between 2001 and 2003, when I was at college, I started to branch out from britpop and got into “emo”. I suppose some of it was quite fashionable at the time, with Jimmy Eat World and Rival Schools both bringing out brilliant albums around then, but I started digging around a bit more. I was introduced to a fair bit of stuff by a lad I worked with at Music Zone (Far, New End Original, Onelinedrawing – he really loved Jonah Matranga), but I think I stumbled across Kids Near Water on my own.
Out of all the albums like this I bought around then, this is probably the one I listened to the least and, listening to it again, I can understand why. It doesn’t have the same immediacy as anything I heard by bands like Far, and I felt Jets To Brazil did this kind of thing much better. This is an album that probably hasn’t been taken off my shelf for almost ten years and I wasn’t really that keen on the idea of dusting it off and playing it again. But I’m quite glad I did, as it seems to have improved with age.
While much of Hey Zeus! is “shouty-emo-by-numbers” (spiky guitars, shouty vocals), there are parts where it’s actually quite inventive. The introduction of the first song, with its “cha-cha”s and guitar interplay, reminds me a lot of Seafood, and the guitars across much of the rest of the album could be straight out of early Idlewild (especially the ending to “And The Horse You Rode In On”). There are unexpected moments in some of the songs – such as the keyboard in “Forward Thinking”, the trumpet in “Congratulations On A Job Well Done” – and there are lots of changes of pace throughout. I also like the effect created by the album starting with the music speeding up, and ending with everything slowing down.
I kind of regret not listening to Hey Zeus! more than I did when I was younger. There’s stuff on here that I know I would have really got into, if only my attention span had been just a little bit longer. I suppose by 2003, though, I was moving onto other bands and genres, so it never got the chance to embed itself like other, similar albums. I’m really glad I got to hear it again though – it’s a lot better than I thought it would be.