“Hollywood Zoo” by Clare Means
Enter a dark humored, in-your-face song with a sharp and confident performance. The melody is strong and delivered with a smokey, but delicate vocal tone. Clare puts genuine feeling into the lyrics while throwing subtly out the window. Lyrically, Hollywood Zoo is ambitious. I’m just an animal in this Hollywood zoo, stuck like a corpse in this Hollywood tomb. The words are meaningful with some memorable, punchy phrases. Instrumentally, I’d categorize Clare as an alt-rock/indie artist, but this track feels more pop than rock. It’s catchy and repetitive lyrics are lacking some depth and exploration, but the message behind the lyrics is connected to a socially relevant and meaningful movement. The delivery is blunt and leaves the listener desiring more. We’re given a free tour of our artist’s psyche, taking us down past the kiddie attractions and straight to the horror house. It’s evident Clare is speaking out about something that’s affected her deeply and personally; the strength in her voice really shines through. The song’s lyrical merit isn’t in the cleverness, but in the simple expression of pain; simple, but poignant, and easily identifiable. The artist doesn’t spend too much time trying to be clever or lyrically smart, and that’s the power of it. Anyone who’s been through similar circumstances will recognize that feeling of not being able to fully communicate or express their feelings, the frustration that goes with it.
Hollywood Zoo has a full accompaniment that is reminiscent of early 90’s alt-pop/rock and compliments the vocal track quite well. There’s a bit of Garbage here, Smashing Pumpkins, and Silverchair. The track’s descending progression never stops, only building and dropping dynamically. The guitar is a bit understated and a grittier tone would better suit the dark mood of the song. A haunting piano melody added a mysticism and brought out some warm, familiar indie sound, but there’s a deceiving serenity in the piano; gentle but weighted. The power behind this song should be complemented with an equally powerful rhythm section, but it sounds sparse and hollow. The drum sounds are a bit off in some parts and the intensity of the song might have been improved by more complimentary percussion patterns.
The bass is minimal which is unfortunate. More versatility in the bass line would have really driven the dark and edgy vibe of Hollywood Zoo.
The bridge carries with sophistication, brought by a tiny touch of strings and piano that carry the dreamlike tone of Clare’s voice. Followed by another visit to the first verse, reminding the listener where our story began. Ending with a final, expected chorus, the the melody fading out for an elegant ending to a distinct and original track. Hollywood Zoo has strong commercial potential due to Clare Means ability to conjure up a unique sound while still appealing to a wide range of listeners.
The artist and the message of Hollywood Zoo attempts to eloquently grapple with the oceanic ups and downs of being a woman, which in 2018 can still be an intimidating message to promote, but it needs more.
by Rhiannon Edwards, posted and approved by Michael Rand