ZX+ is for most part the work of Stephen Evans, a Manchester, England-based indie rock veteran who has previously performed with Twisted Wheel, The Planets, and I Win I Drive. On the extremely eccentric Don’t Drink The Water, (available from Play And Record Records) he’s helped on a few tracks by backup vocalist Mary Joanna Coogan, and throughout the album by drummer Mark Coupe. The frequent tempo changes and genre hopping might come across as pretentious in other hands, but Evans seems to be having so much fun, and has such a knack for fetching melodies, that most listeners will find the trip invigorating.
The energetic and whimsical “Pet Sematary” kicks off with Winston Churchill being run down by a truck, and like the opening track “The Crazies,” proves Evans wasn’t kidding when he named Syd Barrett as a major influence. “Up And Down The Stairs” mixes a marching band rhythm with brash vocals and “The Raven” sounds like it could have sprung from The Who’s rock opera Tommy. Evans isn’t as engaging when he experiments with the waltz on “Just Like That” and “For Him Or Her,” but those slight misfires are easily forgiven considering Don’t Drink The Water also offers the irresistible punk of “Mud And Rubble” and “The Desert.”