Cut Copy, an electronica band from Australia, has always served an appreciable role in my twilight drives to buckshot nowhere. Yes, it has had its share of dark moments, but it balances its failed ventures with good things. Things like its fifth studio album, “Haiku from Zero.”
Spoiler alert: I love this album.
I picked up Cut Copy’s first album, “Bright Like Neon Love,” merely three hours after overhearing a Cut Copy song in a new age taqueria, enjoying my grease-packed, quasi-meat enterprise of a meal.
After falling in love with the album, I’d drive my friends out to the middle of nowhere for “undisclosed purposes.” I’d force Cut Copy down their throats as they stared longingly into the sunset, because listening to Cut Copy within other contexts outside of driving meaninglessly was incomprehensible.
If a band’s main task is to define a feeling, then Cut Copy captures that sunset drive motif, the apprehension of losing what little is left. On a scale from “euphoria” to “all is lost,” this band falls in at “most is lost, but whatever — let’s dance.”
This Australian quartet grasps at different genres with each sequential release, but they’ve nevertheless retained their ’80s-esque charm. Blame it on their voices, looping beats, simple and repetitive guitar riffs, systematic approach to basslines, whatever.
Cut Copy nailed indie dance before indie dance was a thing, and for these undertakings we owe it a favor, a beer or a minor-but-appreciable sum of money.
Then Cut Copy released “Free Your Mind” in late 2013, and I vomited for a week straight. What were they thinking?
But forget that disappointment. Though other critics have placed all of Cut Copy’s earlier releases over the latest, you can tell the high priests to take a seat and stop scratching their a****. This review is better, mostly unbiased and it took several listens to complete.
This time around, Cut Copy does not reach into its magical hat and pull out a new genre. Instead, Cut Copy reaches into its magic hat, pulls out its hands, finds them empty, shrugs its shoulders and heads to the neighbor’s yard to politely ask if it may use their patented Genre Fusion Machine.
The next day, Cut Copy began creating “Haiku from Zero,” and the opening track, “Standing In the Middle of the Field,” so perfectly framed the band’s intentions that it decided to make an even better track, “Counting Down.” Cut Copy was grooving, Cut Copy was moving.
Believe it or not, “Haiku from Zero” is enjoyable from open to close. Some songs stumble over themselves, their driving concepts being a bit too bland or bloated to find a genuine personality, but that doesn’t detract from the overall experience.
“Haiku from Zero” has a genuine and loving polish unmatched by Cut Copy’s other forays into the musical landscape. Not once does it seem like Cut Copy admitted defeat and cried, “That’s enough editing,” only to release the song and regret it later.
In the lyrics department, Cut Copy has marginally improved its subtlety and embedded meaning, but this relative difference is only rarely pronounced.
Whenever it does forego that skin-deep philosophy, you’ll be struck with an incurable case of incomprehension, like in track five, “Airborne.” The brain can only handle so many random words strung together.
But if you listen carefully and repeatedly, you will hear the thesis statement of every song in more than one place. It’s standard Cut Copy fare in the end.
It’s telling that this is the only Cut Copy album where I haven’t skipped at least one song to reach the next, and this minor but significant difference delights me. Each track finds value by its own merit. As I stated earlier, some have little to offer past the initial substance, both musically and lyrically, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable.
With the help of the sunset, you can find me crying in my vehicle to “Standing in the Middle of the Field” and “Tied to the Weather,” or dancing and screaming into my friends’ virgin ears as “Black Rainbows” fills the landscape.
There are 10 invaluable songs here to add to your MP3 listening device, and you can be sure I’ll be revisiting this album when I determine my favorites of 2017.
Blane Worley is a graduate student in mathematics writing on behalf of KSDB, Kansas State’s student-run radio station. The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian or KSDB. Please send comments to [email protected] and visit ksdbfm.org for more reviews.