So finally, that wave of tribal-percussion-thing that Brooklyn finds so ubiquitous has reached overseas. The recipient of that trend, the Australian four-piece Cut Copy, has internalized it almost more successfully than its predecessors, creating a record that extends its post-post-punk dance sound without ever really abandoning it.
The result, Zonoscope, Cut Copy’s third LP, is a far broader effort than the previous album In Ghost Colours. It is less streamlined, but is the image of a band who does straight disco-rock well, expanding and incorporating other sounds into its repertoire. It’s not a departure—lead single “Need You Now” could totally fit on Colours, or for that matter, Power, Corruption, and Lies—but as the album progresses, Cut Copy sounds like multiple bands.
Zonoscope possesses a remarkable flexibility in orchestration, if not necessarily songcraft. Some tracks are guitar-based, others use analog synths, and others use tropical percussion—most use a combination of the three. The album ends with the sprawling “Sun God,” a 15-minute trance saga that doesn’t pay homage to tropical electronica so much as avidly hump it. But holy crap, if Cut Copy is smart, it will be awesome live. The album conjures up visions of a sweaty audience gyrating for ten minutes to heavily oscillating colored lights as the bass drum pounds the twerking and washing synths into the collective consciousness. It could get a little repetitive on the record, but this is a dance track, not a rock song. The mess of filtered synths and teeter-totter percussion can really mess with the lizard brain.
That said, a lot of the music sounds kind of like the soundtrack to the Gran Turismo games, and without any difference in songwriting, feels about as superficial. It’s funny that despite every song sounding different, they all feel the same. It’s the same feeling that Cut Copy evoked on In Ghost Colours, and is probably inherent in its aesthetic, for better or worse.
With few exceptions, these are a solid collection of dance-rock songs and rock-dance tracks—Zonoscope represents the evolution of a band that knows what it’s doing.