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Cut Copy

Zonoscape LP

What began in 2004 as Dan Whitford's one-man '80s pop pastiche with the charming Bright Like Neon Love expanded to a three-piece by the time of Cut Copy's 2008's follow-up, In Ghost Colours. With former DFA anchor Tim Goldsworthy co-producing and seemingly serving as a virtual fourth member, Cut Copy was by that time a band rather than a DJ project. Goldsworthy, after all, was given a lot of the credit for fleshing the buoyant, glitterati dance sketches of the debut into the more sinuous and fully-formed In Ghost Colours; the latter's head-rush shout abouts like "So Haunted," "Lights & Music," and "Hearts on Fire" were cushioned by segues and transitional pieces that gave the album a narrative feel, whereas the first felt more like an occasionally clumsy mixtape compiled by a friend.
 
For the band's third album though, Zonoscope, the band has recruited Ben Allen of Animal Collective and Deerhunter fame for mixing. If Goldsworthy's role as auteur and mentor has perhaps been underrated by casual fans and overstated by scrutinizers, it's worth noting that without him the band's lost little of its long-player coherence. The method of assembly, though, is markedly different. In Ghost Colours was arranged according to the ebb and flow model of album craft, allowing little pockets of withdrawal and hesitation to highlight the album's pop gems, while Zonoscope's progression's more linear. Gone, for the most part, are that album's instrumental segues and daydrifts. Here, the listener's treated to a tighter, more streamlined selection that emphasizes track impact over the album's sonic arch.
 
Opening with the black-light arpeggios of the OMD-esque "Need You Now," Cut Copy leans into the jumpy Balearic pop of "Take Me Over"—which contains a rhythmic nod to fellow Aussies Men At Work—and finishes with the Beach Boys harmonizing of lead single "Where I'm Going." "Blink and You'll Miss a Revolution," meanwhile, resembles the surf shorts disco of Studio, while with Spacemen 3 guitar squall and chunky drums both "This Is All We've Got" and the excellent "Alisa" look back to the band's more full-blooded, organic past.
 
Closer "Sun God," on the other hand, is the band's most expansive effort yet. Over fifteen minutes, the band slides from blissed out dance pop into a break where Whitford soapboxes "you've got to live/you've got to die/so what's the purpose of you and I" before finally settling into the kosmische-y glow of one of Göttsching's autobahn symphonies. It's a daring moment on an album that's, for both better and worse, nothing of the sort. Their anthems, barring "Need You Now," have been replaced by sly, sinewy creations that don't really pop 'til listen twelve. The album's impact lies instead in the band's confidence in its own instincts and the clarity of its vision. Beneath Cut Copy's nods to forebears and its loving advocacy of early '80s pop, Zonoscope's the sound of a band beginning to trademark itself.
 
-- Resident Advisor
item # 38354
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