Zoo Legacy: "How Much Love"

Single (2011)

By Calum Marsh | 14 October 2011

It’s been almost a year since House of Balloons‘s breakout singles dropped as free downloads and blew up overnight, so I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Weeknd already have imitators. I suppose the conspicuous overlap could be a coincidence—it’s not like the Weeknd’s slinky rock/R&B melange emerged entirely without precedent anyway—but when the niche you occupy is so narrowly defined, it’s easy enough to spot even allegedly accidental plagiarism.

For their part, Zoo Legacy claim only to bite Kid Cudi and the xx, and those sources aren’t too far off the mark either. The negative space surrounding “How Much Love,” their free EP’s strongest track, signifies “nighttime” in all its evocative glory. A cynic might call it plug-and-play atmospherics, but if you’re as easily seduced by moodiness of this sort as I am you’ll find enough to enjoy here. Plus there’s a pseudo-rap verse stuck in the back half of the track that sounds like it was lifted straight out of a Drake slowjam, which bodes well for their aesthetic inclinations if not their originality.

As far as the Kid Cudi thing goes, I assume they were thinking more of “Pursuit of Happiness” than “Make Her Say,” but even then the comparison only goes so far. Given their…er, let’s say “temperance” and give them the benefit of the doubt, they’d be better served describing themselves an ordinary rock band with negligible R&B or hip-hop trimmings rather than the other way around. You’ll hear a touch of Abel Tesfaye in the vocals, sure, and that may even be a pose they’ve affected deliberately. But Zoo Legacy are from Ottawa, not Toronto, and they are to the Weeknd what the former city is to the latter—slighter, nicer, a whole lot less edgy. I guess if you find the Weeknd’s nastiness off-putting, Zoo Legacy can be a cool low-fat alternative, something that sorta sounds like the big city but without all the lights and drama. Ottawa’s an okay town anyway, stable and secure. But nobody goes out on Thursday.