Review Summary: Enjoyable synth-pop that doesn’t strive to be anything else. Well, except for “Sun God”, but we’ll take that as a mistake and forgive them for it.
Synth-pop is one of those genres that have stuck around for a while without much change. It’s not hard to see why, as, at its core, synth-pop is dance music with enough appeal to be listenable outside of a rave. It sells well, it’s relatively easy to make so long as you can craft a good melody, and it has enough variety within itself to not fall into repetitive garbage. That pretty much explains why the “80’s never died” aesthetic that Cut Copy showcase here is still going 2 decades after the 80s died.
What we have here is simply a well made, enjoyable synth-pop album that does nothing amazing with the genre and doesn’t appear to want to. The first three tracks are easily the strongest, getting the listener up and moving while rewarding multiple listens with a remarkable amount of layering and love. That’s why otherwise overly long tracks like “Take Me Over” succeed so well. A 5 minute groove-fest, “Take Me Over” could have easily gotten away with using its bass line to carry it as a simplistic 3 minute pop song (which is what “Where I’m Going” does, but with enough great vocal layering to make up for it). Instead the band does more and adds a magnificent bridge and numerous other melodies that clinch the “jungle” style excellently. From then on, however, the album fails to produce enough memorable moments to justify a higher rating. “Pharaohs & Pyramids” is the same length as “Take Me Over” but is nowhere near as interesting and ends up being a 5 minute block of run of the mill synth-pop.
That pretty much sums up the rest of the album, either nice pop songs (“Blink and You’ll Miss a Revolution”) or 5 minute long pop songs that can’t justify their extended length (“Corner of the Sky”). Then “Sun God” arrives and, in its attempt to do something interesting, fails epically. What starts off like every other song on the album soon devolves into senseless repetition as Cut Copy stretch the formula out to an astounding 15 minutes. Nothing interesting is done in those 15 minutes and the song drags more than an elephant on a cart without wheels. The only reason that kind of mistake is forgivable is because it’s the last song on the album. If it had been positioned anywhere else it would have ruined the album as whole.
Putting aside that error, Zonoscope
is an enjoyable synth-pop release. Its poppier songs are great, and the few songs that go past that are excellent. Cut Copy proudly proclaim that the 80s still aren’t dead, and if they continue like they are, then it’s doubtful they ever will.