Cut Copy: True Originals

Courtesy of Modular

Electronic music in general has been revitalized lately, and with it many of its subgenres. Cut Copy’s new album “Zonoscope” is straight electro-pop, and the influence from 80s new wave groups such as Duran Duran and A Flock of Seagulls is immense throughout the record.

First things first: “Zonoscope” is most definitely a feel-good, danceable pop record. From the instant you kick in to the first track, the unmistakable 80s synth-pop sound hits you. The album is simply oozing with it.

Pop music can be a dangerous weapon. If you don’t make it properly, it’s very likely it will come back to bite you. But, if done right, it can transcend the normal prejudice of genres and be the best type of music out there.

That being said, the album is well constructed. There aren’t any “bad” songs. There are, however, a fair number of songs that will probably take a little while to grow on you. It all just depends on your affinity for the 80s. The more comfortable you feel in 80s blazers and leg warmers, the better “Zonoscope” will be.

There are also a few gems on this album that are pop done right. They have that ultra-accessible pop quality, with the eighties’ intensity somewhat offset by some other influences. These tracks really help to balance the record.

“Where I’m Going” is the first of these. After the first two eighties-laden tracks on the album, the song starts off with a guitar, followed by a massive, stomping beat. The song’s fantastic vocal melodies seem somewhat influenced by the Beatles, and are a perfect complement to the electronica. The track still has some crooning pop gimmicks, group chanted “Yeah!”s here and there and frankly, quite a bit of 80s electronica, but it’s relatively straightforward nature is refreshing.

The next song, “Pharaohs & Pyramids,” is a prime example of the album’s quirky 80s nature. There’s an abundance of punchy, electronic tom fills and euphoric synthesizers over a very, very danceable beat. The track demonstrates how deft Cut Copy really is at what they do. “Pharaohs & Pyramids” is up there with anything out of the 80s. It’s a culmination of the sound the band seems to be after on this record.

Skip a song and you get to “Strange Nostalgia for the Future.” The song is as interesting a trip as the name is. It’s a two-minute voyage, played entirely backwards, into some weird electronic territory. Needless to say, it’s another break from the fiercely danceable tracks.

“Strange Nostalgia for the Future” fades directly into “This Is All We’ve Got,” one of the best songs on the album. “This Is All We’ve Got” is simply a fantastic tune. Once again, it’s electro-pop without any profound traces of the 80s. “This Is All We’ve Got” is reminiscent of the pure electronic genius on the Chemical Brother’s “Further,” which is most certainly a great thing.

“Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat” is another unique one. It’s definitely notable for its slightly more chill nature – there’s even a prominent acoustic guitar in the song. It’s still totally electro-synth-pop, like everything else on the album, but the addition of guitars and its slower nature give it that extra bit of distinction.

The album closes with the 15-minute “Sun God,” a fitting end to the record. If you’ve ever seen the show or heard the theme, there’s no way you won’t be thinking “Miami Vice” all the way through this one. It’s epic and builds well. And, of course, it’s all done with ethereal synths, punchy drums and a host of other electronic sounds.

“Zonoscope” will surely take a couple of listens to really get into, for those that are willing. It fits a bit of a unique niche in today’s sonic market, and it can be a little much to digest at first. Yet, it is extremely well made. That fact is undeniable. Good music can be recognized regardless of what your tastes are. And most everything on “Zonoscope” – the melodies, the composition and the execution – is solid. Everything from the beats, the vocals, and most certainly the synthesizers are authentic and proper. The songs hit you like the best of the 80s did, and both in spite and because of the acquired quirkiness, there are a number of truly fantastic songs on the record.

Rating: 4/5 Stars