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Cut Copy
Zonoscope Rich Hughes , March 2nd, 2011 11:24

The fashion for looking back as a means of artistic inspiration is not a new thing. Artists have always reached for their favourite record in times of need, when they’ve needed a spark of something, anything, to get those creative juices flowing. As for Cut Copy, well, you feel they sleep with 80s pop records under their pillows, absorbing the riffs, beats and hooks via osmosis, such is the sound of their latest long player Zonoscope.

These nods and winks to the past start from the very beginning. ‘Need You Now’ has to be a forgotten OMD single - you know, before they went shit in the 90s. It’s uncanny: the similarities in both the vocals and keyboard riffs. ‘Pharoahs and Pyramids’ creeps the influences back into that decade, a disco classic complete with breakdowns, synth solo and New Order bass-line all shimmering in a mirrorball glow. Slipping into the 00s we get the post-punk rattle of ‘Alisa’, which sounds like Yeasayer at the beginning before falling into some Spandau Ballet romantic ballad in the chorus. ‘Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat’ is the track Roxy Music never recorded. The entire album is like someone has thrown their entire record collection, from the 80s through to now, right into your face.

The most astonishing thing about Zonoscope is that it works. Plundering their record collection in this manner has just inspired them to go above and beyond their previous work with ridiculous aplomb. In fact, some of it outdoes their heroes. Each glinting riff, sharp refrain and sparkling rhythm raises the heartbeat. You can’t escape its infectious nature.

The epic closing track ‘Sun God’ with its electronic sprawl proves that Cut Copy are no one-trick pony. If you were just poaching tunes to make them your own, you’d never be able to extend that and keep the listener completely absorbed over fifteen minutes. It pounds, it flows, it crackles with an energy that spreads like electrical branches over a barren, dark land, filling it with light as it travels. A post-modern pop angel, if you will.

What you think about this particular brand of reverence and referential working will of course dictate what you think about Cut Copy’s efforts. Zonoscope will, of course, turn out inspirational in its own way. Anyone wanting to start a pop band: banish the Top 40 from your listening post and just listen to Cut Copy ad infinitum. Be ahead of the game, because ten years from now this will be the go-to record for somebody else. And, in the end, that will be its crowning glory.

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