Let’s face it: There’s just something cool about Australia. Be it the tourist-packed dance clubs thumping with bass or the sandy white beaches on Travel Channel programs, our perspective of the island is drenched in a summery, effortless appeal. Even the 2000 Olsen Twins movie “Our Lips Are Sealed” — with its jet skis, yacht parties and shirtless blonde surfer dudes – depicts an enticing portrayal of the country, in a preteen kind of way.
With the release of their album Zonoscope, the Melbourne natives of Cut Copy have granted our culture yet another gift from the outback. An intoxicating blend of disco beats, breezy guitars and electronic melodies, the album captures Australian coolness with an ’80s pop touch. It’s a vibrant fusion of modern and retro sounds, perfect for both lounging under a beach umbrella or as the background music of a Molly Ringwald prom scene.
Pounding steadily with drums and synthesizer, Zonoscope’s first track “Need You Now” opens the album with strength and style. The solid rhythm is layered with clapping hands, twinkling keyboards and airy background vocals, creating six lively minutes of electronic ecstasy. Nearly everything about the track is alluring, leaving the listener longing for more of its pulsating beats long after the end.
“Take Me Over” is as catchy as its preceding track but shakes up the techno currents with surfer flair. As the peppy guitar part plays behind the animated electronic melodies, it’s easy to fall prisoner to the song’s energy. Even the vocals of lead singer Dan Whitford are trancelike, as they inundate the song with a rich, steady smoothness.
While most of the tracks bounce between ’80s rock and techno, some have a more surprising presence on the album. “Where I’m Going” is one of these: Between its organ parts and crooning falsetto vocals, the arrangement is heavily – and unexpectedly – reminiscent of the Beach Boys. Even the background vocals are saturated with the ’60s band’s style, providing harmony with “yeah!” and other monosyllabic words. The track’s shift away from ’80s electro-pop might come as a curveball, but it’s certainly not an unpleasant one. Like the rest of Zonoscope, “Where I’m Going” is quick, fun and fully compatible with a Frisbee and sunblock.
Alive with its peppy dance beats, but chill with its fluid strings and singing, Cut Copy’s Zonoscope has entered the music world as the picture of Aussie awesomeness. It’s an album appropriate for everyone’s favorite island activities, from surfing with the locals to partying on yachts with Mary-Kate and Ashley. With this seamless union of beats and bass, the band has given the world one more reason to envy Australia – as if we didn’t already have enough.