Cut Copy’s fifth album ‘Haiku From Zero’ does exactly what music marketed as “vintage” should do, but fails to do so memorably.
In 2016, Antipodean kitsch dance-pop survivors Cut Copy released a cassette entitled January Tape. It contained 44 minutes of wordless, ambient-style electronic music. Their preceding album Free Your Mind had seen the band steer their sound into psychedelia, with frontman Dan Whitford stockpiling everything from indistinct chatter and poetry into a total running time of 1 hour and 12 minutes, when the album was re-issued to include an additional five tracks.
Haiku From Zero is the band’s fifth studio album, and Cut Copy’s first full-length release since 2013 which adheres to the synth-pop formula that allowed the band to tour with the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Junior Senior at the dawn of the new decade with Zonoscope and In Ghost Colours. Cut Copy’s major strength has always played out in their ability to articulate what is influenced by ‘vintage’ music, while also able to ignore nostalgia-driven clichés. It’s enabled them to craft a flattering modern reformulation of ‘80s electro-pop: sound which is drawn upon the same features of electronic music we find diluted and replicated badly in modern pop music.
The lead single ‘Airborne’ is a prime example of this, a track heavily disco influenced and constructed from a Nile Rodgers-esque guitar riff. This is then polished with electronic drums and a pitched-up vocal infused into the instrumental. However, the song runs for almost five minutes, allowing the space and range for each element of the song to be neatly placed into the instrumental. The song subtly draws upon the drawn-out hefty structures we hear in ‘70s and ‘80s disco music. Opener ‘Standing In The Middle Of The Field’ draws on this technique also; opening with simple percussion, maracas, cowbells and xylophone, which then gently unfolds into an upbeat samba-infused rhythm.
At a total running time of 42 minutes, Haiku From Zero sees Cut Copy craft and re-pack their sound into a clean-cut, smooth-sailing electronic four-piece band which delivers a sharp take on what “vintage” music should sound like. However, their deviation from Whitford’s avant-garde tastes runs the risk of Cut Copy delving into the territory of using the same ill-informed clichés they’ve so skillfully and studiously ignored over the years. (6/10) (Benita Barden)
Listen to Haiku From Zero by Cut Copy here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Astralwerks, Ben Browning, Benita Barden, Cut Copy, Dan Whitford, Haiku From Zero, Mitchell Scott, review, Tim Hoey
19 years old, born and bred in West London, currently studying Media, Journalism and Culture at Cardiff University. My musical listening habits waver between hip-hop, electronic and indie. Reviews, commentary and complaints are my current speciality, but as the great Jay-Z states ‘Everybody can tell you how to do it / they never did it’.
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