Single Review: ZELA – I Want Attention | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Upstairs in a Northern working men’s club, the carpet crunchy and the air thick with a fug of tab smoke despite the smoking ban kicking in years ago, Liv Griff glances down at an abject horror show. A dank, depressing, all-round pisser of a place haunted by men not even a mother could love, a turd sandwich of ghouls and goons, nothing less than the worst place in the world.

Not the club. The club is class. Cheap drinks, local bands, free pool table, illegal but functional cigarette machine and a bar overseen by one of those granite-hewn, bombastic women that carry the North East on their shoulders. No, Liv is confronted by a place far bleaker than any grubby venue—the requests tab on her Instagram.

Right here, I Want Attention was born. As she and her brother Max honed their craft on the covers circuit, Liv saw the sea of grotesque come-ons, body shaming, cringe masculinity and objectification in her inbox for what it was—content. This germ of an idea to write a song about all the terrible things men have said to her would see this seething mire of misogyny directed towards her over the years spun into angsty, bratty lyrics; the backbone of an explosive feminist anthem.

Mining ever-deeper their unique brand of hard-hitting alt-electronic pop (comparisons to Charli XCX, Wolf Alice, Grimes and Billie Eilish are more scene-setters than a real yardstick for ZELAs weirdly unique and instantly-recognisable sound), I Want Attention hangs its hat on a low-slung, fuzzy and filthy baseline—aping the sound of a phone blowing up with yet more shite—topped off by an anthemic, hooky chorus wrapped in explosive drums.

With Liv’s voice used, as ever, as an instrument unto itself, the tune rewards multiple listens to spot all the cheeky bits and pick apart a sticky, dense production that nearly, but never quite, overwhelms the lyrical playfulness and driving rhythm that is the beating heart of ZELA’s burgeoning dark brat-pop empire.

The capper to a trilogy of tunes that carved out ZELA’s sophomore phase, I Want Attention brings home the fascinating lyrical journey of Liv Griff, an artist who, forever-accompanied by the omnipresent beats of drummer brother Max, remains hellbent on pouring her personal life into bratty and clever lyrical storytelling.

While 2022’s Chaos Queen was a riotous sketch of hellbent fury and High Wasted Genes the ride-or-die hedonism that follows it, I Want Attention is the view from the other side, a woman taking complete ownership then sending your girlfriend screenshots of your unhinged DMs.

Extreme duality is at the heart of ZELA, their tunes—and this one more than most—telling the wrong ‘uns to fuck off while inviting the right ones in. Shining a light on one of the most dispiriting daily traumas any woman has to deal with and turning it into not just a response but a warning seems to be the MO of these fascinating siblings.

With a dedicated following, multiple UK live spots coming up, a recently announced Canadian date, and more new music on the cards for 2023, ZELA continue to accelerate.

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