2013 has been an amazing year for new movements in the electronic dance world. However, Cut Copy accurately captured a far earlier period in the history of electronica in their latest album, Free Your Mind. This charming synthpop/indietronica group from Australia has taken us back with vocal styles reminiscent of the 80’s and synthesizer sounds that were prevalent in the 90’s.
Now there are some tacky things about this album: immediately the intro cleverly named “Intro” starts off with washy noise on a loop that progressively become intelligible enough to reveal that it is a recording of someone saying “free your mind”. There are several of these odd audio clips mixed in with glittering melodies. “Into The Desert” and “Above The City” serve to introduce the following track and would have gotten in the way if they were were not separated. Still it left me wondering what the point of these introductions within the album were, other than to convey a reference to psychedelic experiences. “The Waves” is the only exception to my judgement since the spacey keys sounded interesting and fresh when compared to the other audio clips.
While the album for the most part has a strong retro sound, “Free Your Mind” the track, still has a contemporary appeal by using a synth bass as part of the percussion compliment. Still the piano, effects heavy vocals, and background sound ecology take the mood of the track back an entire decade. The further you listen into the album, the further back in time you seem to be going. “Let Me Show You Love” by far has the earliest sounding effects; from the crude effects of the intro line “This information is crystallizing into your mind.” and the fat bass keys, to Dan Whitford’s vocals, sounding ever closer like Curt Smith from Tears for Fears.
Oddly enough, while this album is more fitting in the past, somehow its crude effects, simple melodies, and over the top use of background sound effects still have a place in our modern era of dance music. Nowadays it is easy to expect perfectly clear synths and vocals, but there is something admirable about tracks like “Footsteps” and “Meet Me In The House Of Love” that even goes beyond nostalgia. It may have to do with how well they captured the atmosphere of early dance music in their 2013 release, or the quirky nature of their musical style, but there is definitely something novel about their dance tracks.
Still this album did suffer from a few tracks that were lackluster, mainly “Take Me Higher”, which from the beginning features soft chanting and guitar. Almost immediately the track feel misplaced, that is until the guitar gets kicked to the background and the synths come to the forefront. The ballad-esque intro was pretty off putting and once the intro has passed, it is easy to hear how different the track could have been with a less pop-rock intro. Other tracks like “Dark Corners & Mountain Tops” appeal more to an indie audience, and do a fair job at sounding indie in a cheesey mimicked way. Yet the track holds once they ditch some of the cheap tricks towards the end and pick up the tempo.
Though Cut Copy has a very simple composition, almost sounding like they are producing out of a garage, there is something really fun about their retro musical antics. Yet some of the short introductory tracks felt unnecessary, and their indie stylings felt forced. Nonetheless most of the tracks on the album Free Your Mind were energetic and definitely fit in as electronic dance.