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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cut Copy - Zonoscope: B

I was getting pretty frustrated listening to Zonoscope for about the third time, trying to figure out what indistinguishable 80’s band Cut Copy were taking most of their musical cues from. It was clear that Depeche Mode was an enormous influence on the group and that the maladroit white-boy disco of Hot Chip were an easy reference point, but, with each time I listened to a song like “Take Me Over” and “Blink And You’ll Miss A Revolution”, I knew there was one specific band from the eighties these guys could not help but ape in the most conspicuous ways.

Now, it should be enough of an insult to Zonoscope that I ended up spending the time listening to it playing “guess who” with the influences, but what should be an outright slap in the face is that the group I ultimately deduced Cut Copy were carbon copies of was not actually a band from the 80’s at all. It was Yeasayer. If you listen to a song like “Take Me Over” and then hear a song like “O.N.E.” from Yeasayer’s excellent Odd Blood from last year, it literally sounds like the same band is performing both songs. The only clear difference between Zonoscope and Odd Blood-era Yeasayer is that Yeasayer did a much better job of making the nostalgia of the 80’s something quite vibrant. Zonoscope just sounds like the rehash of a rehash, Dan Whitford’s noncommittal deadpan not even trying to compete with Yeasayer’s Chris Keating’s glorious yelp.

Zonoscope, is a decent synth pop homage, but, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the short time I’ve run this blog, it’s that there’s quite a bit of decent synth pop homage out there. The first half is slightly promising with the chorus of “Need You Now” being pretty good and “Take Me Over” sounding like a modest party-starter (probably because its synth line is almost exactly that of “You Can Call Me Al”) but, even then, the album sags to instantly forgettable new-wave exercises in its second half. Then the whole painfully mediocre mission statement is summarized in the closer, “Sun God”, which manages, with ease, to take all the things that make Zonoscope banal and pointless; aimless synth throbs and half-assed lyrics (“You got to live / You got to die / So what’s the purpose of you and I”) and space it out over 15 minutes, which gives it absolutely no playback value, but, on the bright side, is a shorter length than the rest of Zonoscope, so it could be a pretty good substitute for the same listening experience. If you want a good Cut Copy album, get Odd Blood and let this one fade into what I would call (but never again) THE BOREVOID.

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