It starts with Intro (Neon City). True to that title, ZHU sets his scene as a noir-ish soundscape: the world is asleep, the voiceover tells us, soon to be lit by the fluorescent dance-pop we’ve come to know and love over the last couple of years from this gentleman.
It’s somewhat irksome, then, that Generationwhy starts with ZHU’s weaker material. In fact, you might be better off skipping Cold Blooded and Secret Weapon and move straight on to Electrify Me, which is 100% symptomatic of this man’s appeal – a featherlight vocal that foxtrots over simple yet tremendously on-point dance beats, a club-ready smash that sends 100 volts through the genre.
When he gets it right, then, it’s dynamite. There’s deft vocal trickery on Numb, and of course that continued cinematic Sin City-esque feel on the opening of Palm Of My Hand before it leads the album down a more funk-driven path. There’s also quite a centrepiece in the form of Money, a guitar-led jam that seems to channel the best of The Bee Gees (no really) in one hell of a dramatic showstopper.
As a host of singles there’s certainly gold here, but across the length of an album the impact is diluted a little. The formula creeps in, and for an album titled Generationwhy there’s little in the way of gravity or commentary as things remain more rooted in the shallow end of both dance and pop. Still, there’s enough here to proffer ZHU has a nimble-footed talent who – for a debut album at least – more than successfully lays down the foundation for an exciting career to come.