This Vancouver duo releasedÂ their sophomore album Ancient Mars in October 2012 through Light Organ Records. Ancient Mars follows up The Zolasâ€™Â 2010 debut Tic Toc Tic in the same progressive style, albeit tinged with disheartened undertones. Zachary Gray puts an oddball twist on otherwise forlorn lyrics and, paired with Tom Dobrzanskiâ€™s hoppy piano chords, makes The Zolasâ€™ sound more sing-a-long-chorus indie-pop rock than something melancholic.
The albumâ€™s first single, â€œCultured Man,â€effortlessly sails through no fewer than five tempo changes, each thickening up the anti- quixotic narrative. â€œColdÂ Moonâ€ manages to conveyÂ the struggles of modern heartbreak through lines such as â€œI found the stomach to deny/the urge to look you up onlineâ€ with disconcerting lovability rather than kitsch. The album takes a breakÂ from jangly pop-rock with â€œIn Heaven,â€ which is underpinned by heavier chords and takes a turn to a synthed-out wash on the back end of the song.
At times Grayâ€™s vocals come across asÂ indifferent, more noticeable when the emphatic punch of instrumentals from Dobranski and supporting musiciansÂ is lacking, but for the most part, Ancient Mars offers up song writing and riffs that are appreciated for their quirky charm.