In their first two albums Cut Copy have been painting the picture of a band rising from the influence of 1980s electronica to take on the disco, no holds barred. The feeling has persisted through these two pieces of work that they have a massive album in them – and Zonoscope is so nearly it.
The ambitious title and futuristic artwork scream ‘concept’ and ‘excess’, the worry being the quartet will disappear inside themselves in the pursuit of perfection, with sprawling and indulgent structures, and ideas nobody in their right mind will understand.
Opener Need You Now refutes that emphatically. The best Cut Copy song to date, it combines all the best elements of the first two albums – tension, slight vulnerability and a sense of restrained euphoria – and belts them together with a chorus so memorable you’ll have it in your head after one listen, Dan Whitford’s baritone cutting through the disco dust.
The band are on good form almost throughout, with wonderful choruses applied to Blink And You’ll Miss A Revolution and This Is All We’ve Got. Take Me Over is airy and looking forward to its night on the town, with lingering looks at Men At Work and Fleetwood Mac‘s Everywhere, while Where I’m Going turns in to a no holds barred glam stomper.
The vocals, almost always straight faced, continue to hint at the irony of Human League or 1980s Depeche Mode, while the lyrics talk largely of positivity and togetherness.
Towards the end the momentum flags, with the choruses of Alisa, Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat and Corner Of The Sky beautifully airy but less convincing. Hanging On To Every Heartbeat hints at a preoccupation with Balearic grooves, an element realised in the frankly puzzling finale that is Sun God, a 15 minute soundscape that attempts to outdo Lindstr�m with its scope, but fails to keep sufficient interest or development. It proves an unsatisfactory footnote, but one that proves easy to gloss over, given the pop nuggets found elsewhere.
The key to enjoying this album, as with Bright Like Neon Light, is sticking with it for the first few listens. Then, like a tapestry, its inner melodies and secrets are revealed and, Sun God apart, you fully appreciate how it hangs together. It’s another step nearer the masterpiece this band are increasingly capable of delivering.