Amsterdam’s a bit like a patchwork quilt. A bit homely, a bit old-fashioned but reassuringly comforting and welcoming. All of which is a bit of a long-winded introduction to a band, I’ll admit.
Amsterdam means many things to many people and it crams a lot of different vibes into its densely packed, canal riddled streets and avenues. Tourists flock to take photos of its flower market, pottery collections, diamond hauls, cheese shops, coffee shops and red lights, terrace bars and canal barges. They may even eat a raw herring or two, if they’re feeling brave enough. It is truly a postcard town, a collection of nice views and tacky souvenirs. Even when it tries to be outlandish and modern, it seems to look for inspiration in the most modest and homely of places. Let’s take the recent extension to the Stedelijk, the country’s leading modern art museum, as the most shining example. The museum, to begin with, is housed in a fantastically overblown 19th century building but the new extension seems to have taken its inspiration from that most homely and private of objects, the bathtub. How very, very quaint and, pointedly, decidedly un-modern. It’s a city that doesn’t really seem to care much about itself in the here and now but is rather proud of what it has been and where it’s come from. Amsterdam is a hotchpotch of ideas brought together in a rather appealing, if somewhat kitsch manner. Strung together, how the pieces fit next to each other doesn’t really make much sense but as a whole it somehow holds together, creating the picture of a city that seems well worth wrapping yourself up in once in a while. In other words, Amsterdam’s a bit like a patchwork quilt. A bit homely, a bit old-fashioned but reassuringly comforting and welcoming. All of which is a bit of a long-winded introduction to a band, I’ll admit.
The thing is, that patchwork quilt idea seems to be the modus operandi of Go Back To The Zoo. They’re quite possibly the ultimate Amsterdam band, a collection of just about everything, from Talking Heads to mid-90’s Primal Scream to, err, Haircut 100. Zoo is a quite bewildering album, a heady, sugary mix of 80’s synth pop and indie guitars. It’s an album as explosive as shoving a packet of Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke and just as daft.
It talks about such world problems as running around town looking for a milkshake. It tells you, in no uncertain terms, to stop waiting for a miracle and just bloody enjoy yourselves for a change. It’s the kind of album that should come with a free tequila shot. It’s pure, unadulterated pop joy and as ridiculous as it gets – and it does get quite ridiculous at times - it never stops being fun. And do you know what? That’s enough. Hell, it’s more than enough.
Oh what fun.