It's likely that the Zutons will be remembered for three things: being repeatedly mistaken for the Coral, with whom they share a producer (Ian Broudie), a record label (the U.K.'s Deltasonic), and a hometown (Liverpool); keeping Eliminator company at the alphabetical ass-end of every record store's "rock" section; and scoring a Levi's commercial where we get to see an attractive woman in her underwear. Hell, let's add a fourth: Few albums of the '00s post-Britpop emulsion have mastered the art of forced anxiety the way Who Killed . . . the Zutons (Epic) has. The Zutons lure you in with promises of danger, then shoot you with a Wham-O air gun and expect you to bleed; they have a song called "Havana Gang Brawl" that sounds about as violent as the 5th Dimension even as it spins lyrics about razors and riots; and David McCabe's whingy falsetto on the denim-pimping "Pressure Point" nags itself into postteen-angst submission, deadening the brisk beat's impact with cloying cod-Merseybeat affectations.
Maybe he gets migraines—almost every song includes a lyric involving something medically questionable happening to the poor bastard's head. "Pressure Point" aside, he's also got "Zuton Fever" running through it ("like an epidemic"), and it gets broken in "Confusion" and "blown away" in "Nightmare Part II." By the time he gets to "Not a Lot to Do," he finally gets sense enough to "switch [it] off." Most of the band takes the command at its word, opting for "look how apprehensive we are" guitar solos and the odd sleepy semi- acoustic number. Considering the fact that the Zutons have an excellent drummer who sounds like he'd rather be in the Meters and a saxophone wasted in the service of sounding like a guitar with a squonky effects pedal, they sound like they'd fare better after a Tylenol 3 and a visit to Clinic—or, failing that, trepanning.
The Zutons play Crocodile Cafe with the Shore and the Peels at 8 p.m. Mon., Feb. 7. $10.