On their previous two outings, Cut Copy found a perfect niche in the rave and roll landscape as the Kasabian that bathes after sex or the Happy Mondays that doesn’t always say “Yes Please” to every excess.
While they emanate a “cleanliness,” we’re not talking about the Carpenters here. Nothing is more infectious than their neo-classic “Lights and Music” live, with its sweaty beats taking you over as they take on a life of their own.
On Zonoscope, however, Cut Copy shake up their squeaky rocky ravey roots. That is, after getting one more fix: the plodding and building techno opener “Need You Now,” which stealthly becomes a dance floor anthem before you realize it.
From there though, other influences get tossed into the mix with, ahem, mixed results. While not credited as such, “Take Me Over” is an overt cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere.” Like its uncredited original, it’s insipid and fluffy. Zonoscope has so much more to offer.
“Where I’m Going,” for instance, builds on a Beach Boys feel with a hypnotic sequencer foundation and bombastic drum pattern. Similarly, “Pharaohs & Pyramids” churns, building momentum when all the expected techno elements—808 cowbell, a (Peter) Hook-y bass solo, and synth flourish—are deployed judiciously. Pure ecstasy as it was.
At times, some of the other tracks blur together, which is not a complaint, because when the vibe works, you have to succumb to it.
At first sight, however, the closer “Sun God” is daunting, clocking in at 15 minutes, but it immediately becomes a wanted journey. The synth washes and syndrum blips carry you on a Tangerine Dream-ish through Scrooge-like “this is your life” musical tour, a soundtrack complete with delicious disco refrains and an unsatirical pastiche of artists and sounds ranging from Bowie and Blondie to Japan, Gary Numan, House music and The Orb (plus everything in-between).
As “Sun God” closes, you feel satisfyingly drained, almost too tired to press the repeat button, but you find a way. Whether to repeat the song or entire album suddenly becomes the biggest decision you have to make.
--By Chris "Gutter" Rose