CD Review: Elizabeth and the Catapult “The Other Side of Zero”

Elizabeth and the Catapult is an indie pop duo comprised of Elizabeth Ziman and Danny Molad. On the heels of their acclaimed debut, their latest, “The Other Side of Zero,” was recorded with producer Tony Berg (Peter Gabriel, Phantom Planet, Jesca Hoop) and features respected sidemen such as guitarist Blake Mills and Tom Waits’ longtime touring keyboardist, Patrick Warren. As Molad puts it, “The record is more blatantly honest, even rude at times…” Elizabeth continues, “Even the happiest sounding pop songs on this record have a tinge of regret and darkness to them…And thank goodness for that. Ultimately, that’s the only way I’d feel comfortable singing them. I’m drawn to the ambiguity like a menacing smile.”

If you like your pop music with a side of intelligence and quirkiness, Elizabeth and the Catapult is the band for you. Ziman and Molad have crafted a very enjoyable sophomore record that is utterly refreshing, yet retains smart melodies throughout that easily imprint on the mind. Ziman’s voice is delicate and unpretentious, not far removed from Colbie Caillat in tone and style. But the band’s music is more like XTC mixed in with Cake.

The introductory track, “Julian Darling,” is a bouncy and cheery tune that effortlessly grabs attention. Even better, however, is the second track, “You & Me,” which should resonate with anyone who has felt like they were “dressed like a present that’s no longer wanted.” Heartbreaking yet catchy at the same time, this song is their most accessible and could even be a hit at radio. Additional highlights include the gorgeous piano-driven ballad “Open Book” and “Worn Out Tune,” which features one of the most hauntingly memorable choruses on the record.

The experimental pop of “Go Away” is a tad too eclectic and “Heart Goes Boom” (bonus track) is a rather goofy dance track, both of which sound out of place on this otherwise consistently good indie pop record.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8Elizabeth and the Catapult on MySpace