Three albums in and Pupil goes back to zero – a restart, a new beginning. Yan Yuzon’s out and erstwhile Mongol Jerome Velasco comes in. The angular riffs and dream-pop soundscapes are out – traded for the more compact ones. The alt-rock palette with strong post-punk leaning, they decided to explore no further. We saw the band’s sound evolve from Machines to the Infinity Pool – what we have here is the same sound overhauled. Forget about My Bloody Valentine and Interpol then, Zilch has Pupil defaulting to rock – with shades of Smashing Pumpkins, The Cult and Pixies, thrown in to thicken the mix. This time, arena-sized wails, metallic riffs and a drum kit straight out of ZoSo, are front and center.
The Ornussa Cadness starrer “Out of Control” is the funkiest of the lot – also contains Ely Buendia’s wittiest wordplay in a while. Second single “Why” faintly echoes the Pumpkins’ “Quiet” from Siamese Dream, but the chorus is totally Buendia’s – and it’s catchy as hell. Speaking of hell, “MNL” spells some irony about the titular city, a.k.a. the gates of hell, in between metallic riffs and furious pounding. Where Zilch falls short, is in providing breaks between the din, in the same way “Cheap Thrill” pours like ice water, on this hot hot summer. And this is where the rivets start falling. Compared to Buddha’s Pest, in which the dreamy shoe-gazers splinter the grungy ones, Zilch has lesser variations one can latch onto. Not a total loss, not remotely bad even. Yet somehow, it feels like this is where the winning streak ends.
P.S. The cover art is irresistibly hot, despite its black paint mud and cold metallic feel.