Zebrassieres – I Am a Human

P. Trash

Germany’s P. Trash Records has a long-standing obsession with Ontario’s punk scene and for good reason: They’ve had their pizza-grease-covered fingers all over the province’s brashest from Steve Adamyk to Brutal Knights to up-and-coming Toronto snot-rock outfit Pink Wine. Their hot streak continues with Zebrassieres a Toronto-via-Ottawa new wave/future-pop act helmed by Bytown punk-scene vet Andrew Payne who recently recruited Mammoth Cave mainstays (and current Hogtown residents) the Ketamines as his backup band. So yeah believe the stat sheet: I Am a Human is a wonderfully accomplished record.

Part of it boils down to I Am a Human ’s attention to detail. Much of the LP hits like a whippet-fuelled interpretation of Devo’s Freedom of Choice : Retro spaceman synths cascade delightfully throughout the LP while Payne’s jittery near-paranoid vocal delivery paints most tracks with a sense of listen-now urgency. Between the lines Human ’s references are more fascinating still: Sing-song bratty vocal lines recall Pointed Sticks-esque power pop (“Disconnected Frequency”) boy-girl call-and-response vocals reference the Pacific Northwest’s revered DIY scene and at times Zebrassieres veer into the spacey psych of — guess who — the Ketamines. (As on “Economy Lobotomy” a song that should earn new bassist Paul Lawton the nickname “Paul Loboton.”) Payne’s not pushing new-wave boundaries here but he’s refining them — and it’s a pleasure to hear him in his comfort zone.