Brighter Than Neon Love
On their slept-on 2004 debut Bright Like Neon Love, it was abundantly clear that the members of Cut Copy owed a huge debt to New Order with their vintage synth textures, fluid guitars and mixture of live and pre-programmed drums. They pay that debt forward big time with their triumphant 2008 follow-up, In Ghost Colours, and we listeners get to reap the benefits.
Whereas Bernard Summer and company followed their own breakthrough Power, Corruption & Lies with Low-Life, the trio of Dan Whitford, Tim Hoey, and Mitchell Scott make the stylistic quantum leap all the way to Technique and back in just the first half of the album. It’s not even two minutes into opener “Feel the Love” when gorgeous swirls of jangly guitar and electronic ambience give way to four-on-the-floor beats, vocodered vocals and ebullient keys. Shortly after the storming Ibiza revivals of “Out There on the Ice” and “Lights & Music,” the fairly straightforward love vigilantism of “Unforgettable Season” that follows may sound a little pedestrian, but it’s no less euphoric.
The band’s impetuous move to bigger, better things would prove detrimental if these guys weren’t so adept at switching from sound to sound and wearing each so damn well. “So Haunted’s” collision of snarling guitar verse and shimmering dance chorus might have seemed harsh and disjointed on paper, yet it’s a fine consolidation of all of the band’s strengths. It would also boast their catchiest melody to date if the celebratory “Far Away” didn’t glide in behind it to nearly outshine the rest of the album. These dueling dance-mongers are almost enough to make one forget about the seductive, Peter Hook-ing “Hearts on Fire” sandwiched between them.
The breathless pace of the album may leave everyone exhausted before it’s over, but never less than exhilarated after. This is a summer pop record for all seasons, any song setting the mood at any time of day or night. And just as New Order have haunted them, the Ghosts of Cut Copy will no doubt influence countless others in the future. Here’s hoping those others will sound half as good as this.