Without a doubt, Zonoscope, the newest album from Aussie electronic beatmasters Cut Copy, was one of my most anticipated albums of 2011. The band just has an unparalleled ability to always brighten my spirits and can elicit a dance party with almost any of their tracks, so after the huge success of 2008’s In Ghost Colours, I had high expectations that I was trying to keep under control. My first glimpse at this album was the shuffle-laden “Where I’m Going”, a track that at first didn’t grab my attention at all but after repeated listens had me on board. Next up was the potentially Men At Work inspired “Take Me Over”, a track that was pretty 80s sounding but had me feeling pretty good about where things were going.
And now, after my first listen of the full album, I can say that all in all I am pretty satisfied with this record. Most noticeably, it seems to be a whole lot brighter in general than In Ghost Colours. I think this is due to some combination of brighter melodies and a noticeable reduction in the heaviest synth bass lines that permeated their 2008 album. Just like the last record, this one flows from one track to another almost seamlessly, so everything is tied together pretty nicely. Opener “Need You Now” is a great slower paced track at first that builds into a shining gem and is a great summation of the overal sentiment of the whole album. The heaviest track might be “Pharaohs & Pyramids”, an early favorite for me, especially coming immediately after the bouncy “Where I’m Going”, or the second to last track “Corner of the Sky”. The beginning and end of the album seem to be the heavier tunes that bookend the lighter tracks in the middle, and while the energy does go down a bit in the middle, this gives the album a really great flow from start to finish.
Undoubtedly the most ambitious track on this album is the quasi-rave inspired 15 minute closer, “Sun God”. At the start, this tune sounds a bit Hercules & Love Affair to me (I doubt if that’s a good comparison, but that was the name that first popped into my head when the song began) before breaking into several minutes of long, flowing synth as a beat slowly (very slowly) builds up, just bracing you for whatever is about to come next. I’m typically not a fan of these long, sprawling tunes, but this one just seemed to work, not to mention it got into some of the darker places (especially in the last few minutes) that many of the other tracks on this album did not.
Overall impressions: Another solid effort from Cut Copy. There seems to be slightly less (emphasis on slightly) of the heavy beats and that defined In Ghost Colours, but the synthy side of Cut Copy is still ever present, and the band still made sure to build their own brand of deep and intricate soundscapes that they do so very well. This is still the same Cut Copy we know and love, but just a tiny bit lighter and a tiny bit brighter, although after giving a few of the tracks some more plays, I’m starting to think that’s true less and less. Point is, I’m not disappointed by this album one bit, and I’m sure I will only like it more and more with each listen. Let’s just hope we see them on the roster for Coachella later this week as I’m fully expecting.
Cut Copy – Pharaohs & Pyramids Cut Copy – Corner of the Sky