2.08.2011

Cut Copy - Zonoscope

I latched instantly onto Cut Copy through 2008's In Ghost Colours. That album was a revelation, combining the pop anthem with aggressively charming dance beats, and loaded with memorable track after memorable track. It wasn't until 2009 that I really jumped in, but Cut Copy successfully brought me fully into dance music, or at least, indie pop-dance, breaking my lifelong obsession with songs about heartbreak accompanied by rocky hooks or acoustic guitars. Cut Copy was a window for me into a larger music scene, and not to put too much on them, but this band gave me the impetus to listen to everything from hip-hop to experimental electronic music. Well, them and LCD Soundsystem. (Note: If you live in, or plan to travel to NYC and want to see LCD's farewell 3-hour FINAL SHOW ever, it's on April 2nd at MSG. Get tickets soon.) Knowing that Zonoscope was dropping this week, I was all aflutter. It was a chance to reacquaint with an old friend and hear new stories. Albums are that way. We feel like we know the artist, based on what they've told us before, the soul they've bore. But we have to spend a couple years apart every time. And then we get back together for a whole new round of sonic monologue.

Zonoscope is every bit as strong and fun as In Ghost Colours, but it lacks some of the instant anthems. That's not a bad thing. It opens strong with the kind of slow-building track that feels like pieces falling back into place, a real welcome back to us moment. From drum-beats to tinkling notes to claps and then a break into a low-key vocals. I guess, really, the album is a little more sleepy. Structurally, Cut Copy remains what they have been, but they meander in and out of energy a lot over the course of Zonoscope. We receive great highlights, like the Aussie infused, nearly Men at Work-y "Take Me Over." I mean, listen to that riff. [Singing]: I come from a land down under. Great stuff. And the energy is higher, but never peaks to oh shit! high. Still, it's all catchy enough, and darts from time period and back. There's the '80s style I mentioned above, and the very '60s Beatles/Beach Boys influenced "Where I'm Going." So there's a lot of genre-study happening, but ultimately, this is an ideal Cut Copy album because it's mature and sonically interesting. They keep the sounds and samples and loops coming and every single one is well placed.

I have to give specific praise to "Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat," a song that hits all the ballad-y, delicate notes, even paring back to more traditional instrumentation for the verses. It's a sweet song that feels timeless. In total, Zonoscope (a play on sonoscope computer music) is a time-traveling capsule. It holds artifacts of music past inside, dressed in new technology. The heart is undeniable beneath the well-chosen digital bleating and driving beats. Cut Copy took pieces from so many musical traditions and put them in a new outfit, altering them, but all the while paying honest homage. That means that Zonoscope isn't the most consistent of experiences from front to back, but it is consistently enjoyable and damn it's nice to sit down one more time with an old friend to swap some stories.

You can listen to the album assembled on prettymuchamazing.com here.

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