Cut Copy – Zonoscope

January 01, 1970



There’s a
powerful 1980s undercurrent running through Cut Copy’s third album, a tide that
threatens to suck the whole sunny Aussie enterprise down into the darker,
chillier waters frequented by Depeche Mode, New Order and Duran Duran. Popcorn
percolating synth riffs, happy-go-lucky bass drum thumps, irrepressible shouts
of “Yeah!” and “Whoa-oh!” insist that everything is fine. Yet a cold vein pulse
under the hedonism. Even in the silliest, danciest moments, a distance and
chill encases swoon-romantic vocals and tom-rattling drum fills in blocks of
impregnable Lucite.


Cut Copy,
out of Melbourne, Australia, is the brain-child of
Dan Whitford, a former DJ and graphic artist who recorded the band’s earliest
material by himself, using keyboards, voice and guitar. By the early ‘00s, Cut
Copy had expanded to include guitarist Tim Hoey and Mitchell Scott on drums. Ben
Browning, who plays bass on Zonoscope,  joined in 2003. Zonoscope is the second
Cut Copy to get a broad, global release. It follows In Ghost Colours by
three years.


album’s main two flavors – pop and dance – fluctuate in strength from track to
track, with the strobe-lights flashing hardest during the first half of the
album and some interesting Panda Bear-ish pop experiments coming towards the
middle. “Take Me Over,” the album’s first single, balance pop wistfulness and
physical thump seamlessly, chilling jungle drum beats with icy synths and
hollow romantic vocals. “Need You Now” sets up a mesmeric Neu!-ish cadence,
then festoons its austerity with silly, wholly accessible dance pop.   “Blink and You’ll Miss a Revolution” has the
most percussive edge, raising a little of !!!’s sweaty hedonism. But “Where I’m
Going” has nearly nothing to do with the dance floor, sounding, instead like a
pop version of Animal Collective’s arcane celebrations, Brian Wilson harmonies
trailing behind.   


All of
this is very cleanly delivered, individual sounds shrink-wrapped in plastic to
prevent any blurring, massive amounts of echo hanging around even the most
inconsequential flourish. You get the sense that a lot of polish has been
applied to surfaces that just aren’t very substantial. That’s why 15-minute closer
“Sun God” is such a relief, shambling on raffishly through ill-lighted discos,
past Krautish autobahns and through blossoming flowerbeds of psychedelia. It
lasts far longer than it should, but finally feels like living, breathing
music, not a chilly laboratory display of good times.


DOWNLOAD: “Need You Now” “Blink and You’ll
Miss a Revolution” “Sun God” JENNIFER


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