If there was ever a band that captured the freedom, simplicity, and sheer joy of the summer, it's Cut Copy. The synthpop beats that these four Australians create always manage to conjure up memories of warm, sunny days where the only thing on your mind is "what can't I do today?" It's fitting that the band's third LP Zonoscope arrived during summertime in Australia, the time when the true beauty of the band's music shines through. But, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, we'll just have to wait for a few months until we can truly experience what the band has to offer. Despite the weather, their latest album still manages to capture the amazing mood of summer. But how does it compare to 2008s incredible In Ghost Colours, the album that put Cut Copy on the map and established them as masters of their craft?
The album starts off on an extremely strong note by giving us "Need You Now," a climactic rise of synth majesty. The song firmly establishes that the band isn't just giving us music to listen to, but rather taking us through a musical landscape. From there, we are taken into "Take Me Over," a fast-paced, dancey blend of 70s/80s influence and synth chords that is clearly influenced by fellow Australians Men at Work, and "Where I'm Going," a radio friendly (not in a bad way) crowd pleaser that is sure to persuade a huge number of fans to chant along at their concerts. "Pharaohs & Pyramids" is another track that perfectly displays Cut Copy's ability to build up a song with perfect timing, with the fantastic blend of Dan Whitford's almost ethereal voice and heavy synth work reaching a sweeping climax. They not only managed to build up each of these songs individually, but managed to build them all up consecutively towards "Blink And You'll Miss A Revolution." The melodic chorus and fantastic pace are so good, it's hard not to say that this is the best song Zonoscope has to offer.
This is the point in which Zonoscope takes a huge breather. After the five song build up that takes up the first half of the album we are given "Strange Nostalgia for the Future," which, in it's slow, dream like mood, quickly brings the well paced and incredibly epic first half of the album to an abrupt halt. It also reveals the one weakness of Cut Copy, which is that they are really talented at creating music that feels fluid, that you can dance to, but when they slow down too much they aren't able to put everything they are capable of into it. This being said, the next track, "This Is All We've Got," starts to pick up the pace again, and we move into songs like the 80s/funk inspired "Alisa" and the downright happy "Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat." The final two tracks on the album, "Corner Of The Sky" and "Sun God," bring the focus away from the rock aspect of the band and more to the electronic side of the equation. "Corner Of The Sky" is a heavy hitting, dancefloor romp that never slows down, while "Sun God" is a 15-minute long epic that carries on the dancefloor tempo before slowing down into an entirely instrumental, trance-like finale.
Zonoscope represents a transition for Cut Copy in that they have become so f***in' good at creating catchy, dancey songs that start simple and build up into something amazing. By moving more towards an electro/pop focus, the band has been able to excel at creating an album that is consistent almost the whole way through. While In Ghost Colours will always be seen as the Cut Copy album that had a number of great, catchy, anthems, Zonoscope will be seen as the Cut Copy album where the entire album is great, where it all stands out. They didn't create a bunch of anthems here, they created one hour-long anthem.