To re-listen to Zemfira's debut album twenty years later is like taking out a time capsule. To get it not out of nostalgia for the late nineties and not because the songs from him could be erased from memory: on the radio, which in the year of the release of the record was much more powerful than today, these songs sounded so often that it would not be possible to isolate from them even in nuclear bunker. A good time capsule retains the signs of the future, and there will be as many such signs in the album. If the era of Zemfira and "Mumiy Troll" really ended, then it at least was and began with something. And one of the starting points, of course, was Zemfira.
Now, on the stairs, it is clear that it was not so much a Big Debut as a game of trivia, songs written during breaks, flights and on a hospital bed and recorded, if not on your knees, then certainly on the fly, in just a week and a half … If you believe the apocrypha, producer Leonid Burlakov took the song "AIDS" for an autobiographical one and decided to record an album before it was too late (the lines that unequivocally equate immune deficiency with death sound doubtful today, but twenty years ago such a sign of identity seemed to be something obvious) … Zemfira, who was eager to jump over to the second album as soon as possible, will no longer allow herself to have such a rush. The spontaneous negligence that shines through in "T-shirts" and "choruses" will give way to perfectionism: the hunt for honed perfection does not tolerate indulgences and playful diminutive suffixes.
Perhaps that is why the almost universal enthusiastic reception of the album surprised the singer herself in the first place. And maybe that's why it will be so annoying to be crowned “new Zemfirs”. This title has a long history, even before the scandal named after Monetochka and Grechka, whoever was not awarded with it, but when awarding, most often they did not mean "Vendetta", not "Thank you" and not even "P.M.M." namely that the first album. It was, of course, not about nonexistent arrangements, but about texts - personal enough to see the author's figure behind him, and non-specific enough, outlined with sweeping strokes so that listeners could try them on themselves. It was about punchlines, which at that time seemed biting, impudent, impudent (the singer, however, preferred the epithet "asshole", which is also indicative: somewhere here a crack begins between the demands of the public and the perception and ambitions of the artist herself).
Attempts to grow a "new Zemfira" in all seriousness looked so strained and deliberately doomed
With all the comparisons, the then Zemfira still did not decompose into a simple sum of terms (Zhanna Aguzarova + Alanis Morissette + "Mumiy Troll") and looked both an anomaly and a conductor of a great style - more than just an image, sound or verbal delights. Her "first pancake lumpy" was punchy and reckless, like a youth that does not know the shores, does not ask permission and does not report to anyone. A bright flash, which can only be caught in the lens, but cannot be preserved. That is why attempts to grow a "new Zemfira" in all seriousness looked so strained and deliberately doomed. That is why the artist herself was not eager to get stuck at this stage for a long time: another year or two, and so until the end of her life she would have to remain a "scandal girl" - the prospect is so-so.
A well-known speculative device - "what would have happened if the album had not been released twenty years ago?" - not very applicable. The optics have changed too much in this segment for assessing local music, and no matter what angle you take - Russian rock, female rock, pop music - with a disc, the cover of which resembles wrapping paper with a naive signature "for memory", you still have to reckon with: not if the album - and if it weren't exactly what it got into the playlists - the optics would be different, and the era would be called something else.
COVER: Sergey Bobylev / TASS