Is there such a thing as a cosmopolitan album of Western pop music? I guess there is, though it’s not something you read about as often as you might expect. However, by mixing Melbourne sunshine with late 1980s Manchester and a twist of New York disco, Cut Copy somehow secure such a tag.
Not for them the obstacles a second album traditionally provide. In Ghost Colours finds the band brimming with confidence, delivering their catchy choruses and synthesizer hooks with a conviction that’s difficult to resist, staying true throughout to a groove that fits in with early house music.
The album links easily from one song to the next, and is perhaps five minutes too long, but that’s the barest of criticisms. When there are songs like Lights & Music and Hearts On Fire to enjoy, such worries go out the window and the craving for dazzling sunshine or a packed dancefloor replaces them.
This is in marked contrast to the admittedly splendid first album Bright Like Neon Love, which portrayed New Order influences both through texture and fragility, and though it had danceable rhythms, was less forthcoming in sharing them and had a slightly melancholic air. The same influences remain and continue to be keenly used, but the band are never over-reliant on these to the point of pastiche.
Instead, the vibes become good early on and never let up, from the “oohs” of opener Feel The Love, with its immediate charm, through the wonderful Lights & Music, with its catchy refrain. House beats come to the fore but never push the music too far underground, while other influences coming to the fore include a smattering of Human League in the occasionally deadpan vocals of front man Dan Whitford.
In Ghost Colours was recorded in New York with DFA’s Tom Goldsworthy behind the mixing desk, and his influence comes through in the extra layers that beef up the production, not to mention the woozy psychedelia running through songs such as So Haunted.
While the trend for making danceable pop music heavily influenced by 1980s Manchester remains, there are an increasing number of bands who are taking this as a lead and running with it. Cut Copy have applied this better than most, and the indications are that this second album will push them through into the big league.