I’ve been a big fan of Cut Copy’s signature sound since the release of Bright Like Neon Love back in 2004. One of my first posts here on IHYEB was a review of the Melbourne electronic rocker’s second album In Ghost Colours. I wish I could have linked that post, but it was lost with a crash back in 2008. Regardless, I love both albums a lot, as well as the countless remixes I’ve shared with you in the last few years. Next time I go back home I’ll be framing my Vinyl LP of In Ghost Colours in an album frame. So again, to say that I was excited for this album is a bit of an understatement.
Without further ado, let me recount my first hearing of Zonoscope.
The album kicks off with the song “Need You Now.” I really like the way it feels at 0:37 in the player below, just after the intro dies off. The song isn’t perfect, and for the exact reason I’m not exactly sure. I guess I could say that it feels like it hits way too late in the song. Let me explain, at 3:30 the song builds up, and then drops back to the semi-boring verse. I like the lyrics, but in an audial way, it stays pretty static most of the time. The song finally does “drop” closer to the 5:30 mark, but it left me feeling unfulfilled. I’m listening to the song at max volume on my system in my room and I didn’t get the feeling of euphoria when it dropped like I’d hope for it to. “Need You Now” was the one single I’d not heard before the album came out, and I was kind of sad that I started the album wanting more from one of the banner tracks.
Track 2 is the second single, “Take Me Over.” I feel like I bought this single about two months ago, and on the whole I was unimpressed with it. I’m still unimpressed with it, but don’t worry, the album is not even close to its climax. If anything this song has great remix potential, and some are already starting to make appearances.
Track 3, “Where I’m Going,” I previewed a few months ago. I wrote that I felt it had a vibe akin to that of The Avalanches, Melbourne, Australia electronic sampling kings, and now I don’t feel that way so much. The song is so all over the place in terms of style, so much so that I can’t say it mimics one artist or another. It’s not my favorite track of the album. At this point, I’m concerned. I’m three tracks in, all singles, and not one has grabbed me yet.
Thankfully, the album gets progressively better. I feel like the album hits the reset button with “Pharaohs & Pyramids”. The first three tracks are almost like trailers for a movie, but here’s when I begin to like this album. Lots of retro synth and tight reverb. It made me feel like a wallflower because I wasn’t dancing, but this all a good way to feel. This album, especially the middle part of it doesn’t sound like it was meant to be experienced sitting down. “Blink and You’ll Miss a Revolution” has one of my favorite moments on the album. The hook has a brilliant composition of sound, so much so that when I hear, “Baby baby can’t you see / oh take it from me, oh take it from me /we’re on a path to eternity/ oh take it from me, oh take it from me,” I just start to feel like I’m in a club having a good time. I’ve seen youtube videos of the song live, and it doesn’t have quite the magic. I understand part of that is the fact that I was watching a video shot on an iPhone, but “Blink and You’ll Miss a Revolution” has so much complex sound that performing it live does sound like it would be hard to replicate the album feel.
“Strange Nostalgia for the Future” isn’t really a “song”, but it’s part of Cut Copy’s signature style. These short transition tracks make the world of difference in calculating the overall feel of an album. It makes a group of singles feel like a whole composition. So when it brings in my favorite song of the album, “This is All We’ve Got”, I know that the album is about to hit it’s prime. The song winds down and gaplessly turns into “Alisa”. This song has as similar feel to Bright Like Neon Love with less electronic feel and more instrumentation.
While there’s other tracks on the album I haven’t discussed I’m just going to skip them and go right into the album’s 15 minute long outro called “Sun God”. This is undoubtably the track that deserves the most attention, and definitely the most words. Now, I say that it deserves the most attention and the most of my review, but while listening to it, all I can think to do is sit back in my chair and stare at the ceiling in awe. This is by-far the best track on the album, and it’s a shame. What makes “Sun God” so good is that it is one big release at the end of the album. It covers the album’s climax, resolution, and denouement all in one track. I tried listening to it by itself, and it felt wrong. It felt like I cheated. If you want to watch a movie, you don’t skip to the good part, you have to wade through all of the building up, and that’s what the rest of the album is. We have to remember that track numbers and divisions are a convenience, not necessarily the way an album was meant to be listened to. So my plea to you, the reader, is that if and when you get a chance, enjoy Zonoscope in its entirety. Then, and only then, do I think you’ll get a full grasp of “Sun God”. (Extra Note: The editors of IHYEB do not condone drug use, but I’m pretty sure if you listened to “Sun God” while high your head might just explode.)
Now, let me wrap it all up. I’ll admit, it took me some time to warm up to In Ghost Colours, but as of right now I’m not ready to award Zonoscope the title of “My Favorite Cut Copy Album”. It’s good, and it will be considered among the best of the year’s electronic albums, but I have a special place in my heart for their previous work and I’ll just have to keep listening to Zonoscope for a while longer. Still, it’s worth picking up if you’re a fan of their previous works, or a fan of modern electronica.
Zonoscope is available wherever fine electronic music is sold (Amazon (CD $9.99+S&H)/ Amazon MP3 (MP3 $5.99) / iTunes (AAC $7.99) / Modular People Deluxe CD/Vinyl $30+S&H), and as a nice little bonus Cut Copy has put up an hour-long mixtape. The mixtape is also a part of a contest, and if you are one of the first 5 people to name the tracklist of the mixtape you could win sweet prizes.
We also have physical CDs available for the first 5 people who can guess the correct tracklisting. Send all attempts to firstname.lastname@example.org. The first correct entry will also win a pair of tickets to the Cut Copy headline show nearest their hometown (Sorry, festivals are not included in this offer).
So Cutters get cracking if you want to win! The mix was posted yesterday and plenty of people have a headstart on the mix.
I hope your ears bleed while zoning out to Zonoscope. Ω