Cut copy are set to return in 2008 with the shimmering timelessness of 'in ghost colours'. Haunted with machines of the past and sounds of the future, 'in ghost colours' inhabits the kind of space in time where trends are irrelevant and music is about feeling rather than following and 1969 is just as relevant as 2020. At once both jacking and jangly, electronic and organic, cut copy have crafted a record filled with glorious sounds and moods but also unabashedly pop song structures and hooks and melodies for eons. The progression from 'bright like neon love' to 'in ghost colours' is brazenly apparent from opening track 'feel the love', an acoustic guitar led stomp of a space rock tune, instantly unforgettable and with recognizable cut copy sheen. Where 'bright like neon love' was charmingly vague and hazy, 'in ghost colours' is to the point and efficient in it's songcraft, with vocals much more apparent and whitford's imprint all over every track. The record is sewn together with passages of woozy dreamscapes between the straight out jams.
In Ghost Colours
For better or worse, Cut Copy swim in the same pool as those electro, French touch, and new wave revivalists for whom fashion, irony, and self-consciousness represent swords to live and die by. In a scene as self-reflexive as this, backlashes are the order of the day, but even still, there are signs-- such as the increasing use of "blog house" as an eye-rolling pejorative, recent records by Calvin Harris, Does It Offend You Yeah?, and Ghostland Observatory, and the parallel rise of Balearic-feeling dance as a worthy substitute-- that this world might be slipping under the weight of its own ubiquity. Based on their patchy and rainbow-chasing 2004 debut, Bright Like Neon Love there was every reason to believe that a new Cut Copy record this late in the cycle would only accelerate the meltdown; after all, there are only so many ways to arrange and re-arrange vibrant art direction, moneyed aloofness, and the right kinds of sounds before the party heads to a new venue altogether.
As it turns out, we needn't have been so cynical-- not when Cut Copy aren't. If the pastichey Bright Like Neon Love felt more like an opportunistic patchwork quilt of other people's sounds and ideas, the hugely enjoyable In Ghost Colours feels light, confident, and unencumbered by the dictates of fashion. More than anything, though, it's a gloriously positive record, one whose cheerily strummed acoustic guitars, shimmering synths, sweeping choruses, and playful sonics maintain a delicate balance; where a lot of summer pop records like this often scream fun to the point of being oppressive (or at least annoyingly instructive), there's nothing remotely show-offy about In Ghost Colours. In fact, it's closer in spirit to the Avalanches' Since I Left You than it is to anything from the past few years. It's a hard record not to love.
In Ghost Colours was co-produced by DFA's Tim Goldsworthy, who deserves credit for simultaneously opening up the band's palette while relaxing their delivery. Sure, as you might expect, there are still blushes of French house and electro scattered liberally all over the show, but they're always deployed in ways that serve-- rather than overshadow-- the song. And while Cut Copy's principle and founding member Dan Whitford may come from a DJ background, the band-led songs come across every bit as muscular and as noteworthy as the dancefloor crossovers. To that end, this is one of the best bridges between electro and rock in a long time; the joins are so seamless that you don't even think of the songs on those terms.
From the first swirling synths and gleaming melodies of curtain raiser "Feel the Love", In Ghost Colours asserts itself as a hugely magnanimous record. Everything here sounds stadium-sized, loved-up, and breezily inclusive. There's the lead single "Lights & Music", an arena rock slow burner with a disco chorus; or the superb, helicoptering house of 2007 single "Hearts on Fire", which gets a welcome reprise; or the sunburst rock of "Unforgettable Season", which recalls Broken Social Scene in its ability to sound in full swoon from chord one; or the carefree "Strangers in the Wind", whose lazy verse and torpid guitar peels owe a little bit to Fleetwood Mac. Elsewhere, "So Haunted" and "Far Away" compete for standout track status, the former sandwiching verses of fuzzy guitar squall around one of the most gorgeous-sounding choruses of the year, the latter an effervescent bit of 80s synth fluff that holds up against the best of Human League and Erasure.
So yeah, you get the point: Pop lovers will find lots to love here, and if there's any justice, this record will keep them swooning through the summer. Regardless of what kind of audience it ultimately finds, though, In Ghost Colours earns its smiles with a combination of ingenuity and easiness that you don't often come by, and for that, even in April, it already feels like a triumph.
-Mark Pytlik, April 14, 2008