Australian Rockers Reach New Heights
Cut Copy, the indie electronic band hailing from Australia, have brought their groovy synth-pop sound to their new album, Haiku from Zero. It is their first studio album in 4 years. The four-piece band have been releasing albums since 2003. This cleanly produced collection of music does a good job displaying the band’s strengths. Overall themes that the album takes on are those of focus and awareness. The band’s singer Dan Whitford explains how Haiku from Zero is inspired by the day-to-day images we all take in, saying, “The idea of squeezing poetry from chaos was where the title of the album came from — the idea of finding something poetic in the overload.” Musically, the album relies on drum machine loops, sometimes intricate, but all holding a quality of ‘80s dance-pop. Big synth leads and textures blanket the tracks, keeping with the retro style.
The band’s tight arrangements shine in the track “Counting Down,” a song built around an infectious groove. The funky electric guitar keeps the energy up and the bass line is pumping to an up-tempo beat. Cut Copy’s disco-pop influences are very evident on this track. However, they still create a fresh take on the sounds popularized in past decades. The breakdown to half-time in the middle of the track is unexpected and then they bring back in the punchy drums for the final choruses. The singer’s vocal refrain of “Don’t let me down tonight,” at the end of the song, is meant to be simple, catchy and complement the beat.
“Airborne” is possibly the best song on the album. It features the funkiest jangly guitars you can imagine and a drum machine loop combined with an energetic live beat. A perfectly placed vocal sample gives the song an awesome atmosphere. Whitford’s smooth vocals glide over the verses with a characteristic retro tone. The highlight of this track is the incredibly danceable chorus that sounds radio-friendly and maybe even club-friendly. In an interesting switch-up, female background singers take the chorus with a massive vocal chant, “That don’t stop me.” The melody is as catchy and funky as the groove beneath it. The long outro of the song starts with lone piano chords, powerfully adding on synths and a steady kick drum.
In Haiku from Zero, the parts that lack interest are the choices in vocal melodies. Whitford tends to stay in the same short note range from song to song and they aren’t very memorable, even after repeated listens. An exception to that, however, is the last track on the album, “Tied to the Weather.” Without a real beat, the song progresses with synth pads and chopped vocals carrying the chords. The moving melody on the chorus features an octave leap, reminiscent of The Beach Boys. Emotional lyrics tell a story of loneliness with Whitford singing, “You could be alone tonight and you could see it from the other side.” Percussive loops and shimmery synths build up to a frenzy for the conclusion of the album.
Cut Copy has put together a classic album while drawing from many of their retro influences. Their disco-pop sensibilities stand out and make a strong statement in this world of modern music.