Feb 18, 2011 Issue #35 - Winter 2011 - Death Cab for Cutie
Australian dance-pop masters Cut Copy have never sounded better. Now on their third album, the trio seemingly sips a cocktail of discarded 1980s synths and distilled rainbows, liberally laced with timeless pop refrains. What once came across as an exercise in frantic retro-kitsch akin to hipsters swilling Tab soda (sure it's tasty now, but what about after the caffeine buzz fades?), the newest tweak on their recipe leaves them sounding relaxed and bigger than ever.
Mixed by Ben Allen (who recently gave Deerhunter, Matt and Kim, and Animal Collective each a newfound lift) Zonoscope crackles with a playful energy. This is seriously well-constructed music, designed to not be taken too seriously. "Take Me Over" could double as the laid-back sibling to the previous album's highlight, "Hearts on Fire"-its catchy refrain bouncing along a sea of bubbly, glass-bottle percussion. "Where I'm Going's" infectious harmonies make it the best song Mike Love never wrote. Things temporarily devolve into a shoegazy mist similar to the interlude tracks of previous album In Ghost Colours during "Strange Nostalgia for the Future," but the name of the game here is pop.
The album buzzes—but never achieves-heavy during "Pharaohs & Pyramids" with pounding electronics and a few chants thrown in for good measure. But who needs heavy when you have catchy? Overall this is the stuff of lightness: instantly repeatable choruses, sunny refrains for a cold winter day, and beats that call for dance parties that stretch past the break of day. They've created a soundtrack for that, too-behemoth 15-minute closing track, "Sun God." Owing a debt of gratitude to every 1970s police show theme song in existence, Cut Copy blends all their influences into a multi-movement haze of electronics, creating a perfect album send-off. Hit repeat and keep the good times rolling. (www.cutcopy.net)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 9/10