Monday, January 24, 2011

Cut Copy: Zonoscope

Cut Copy
Rating: Grrrr

Cut Copy's second album In Ghost Colours, was a blast of nostalgia mixed with a modern sheen; a rush of sparkling New Order-esque synths and 80s guitars with so many hooks, you could hang meat on them. Their latest release Zonoscope is thankfully not a verbatim repeat of In Ghost Colours, instead, it takes what was great about that album and filters it through a more mature, updated lens.

While In Ghost Colours was filled with short, super poppy songs, Zonoscope allows more room to breathe. Most of the songs are north of 5 minutes in length, and experiment with more foreign textures and percussion, sounding almost like a cross between New Order, Talking Heads, and early Thompson Twins.

The album opens with the droning, pulsating "Need You Now," which erupts into a barn burning finale full of driving beats and twinkling synths:

"Take Me Over," features some lovely new wave guitars over an almost calypso beat:

And first single, "Where I'm Going," is probably their most straightforward song, mixing Beach Boys harmonies with a Beatlesque backbeat:

The album is the perfect mix of standard Cut Copy killer dance tracks, filled with moments of beautiful experimentation; and when the two meet, it is sublime.

"Pharoahs and Pyramids," rides along on a bouncing bass synth line and whooshing synths, moving almost into deep house territory:

"Corner of the Sky," takes a simple chanting vocal and dense patchwork of buzzing synths, building into a delicious guitar raveup:

And it all culminates with the 15 minute trance epic "Sun God,"

Of course, what generally draws listeners to Cut Copy is their brilliant way with a pop song. Although Zonoscope slants a little more to an experimental release, there is no shortage of great singles.

The bouncy, Thompson Twins meets Juan Maclean "Blink and You'll Miss A Revolution," gets by on its dreamy swagger:

And three beautiful guitar centric pieces, the hauntingly lovely "This Is All We've Got," which almost borders on shoegaze, "Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat," a delicate psychedelic tinged ballad, and the delightful "Alisa," with its effect heavy guitars and lush string-filled chorus:

Zonoscope is the perfect follow up to a hit album. It retains enough of the charm of In Ghost Colours without seeming like a retread, but also offers enough experimentation and expansion of their sound to challenge the listener and bring in new converts. Each listen brings new discoveries, and makes the album a difficult one to stop listening to.

Rating Guide

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top albums of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and peaks one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been trimmed or polished.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

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