Ever since their bouncy 2004 debut Bright Like Neon Love, Melbourne-bred electro-pop rockers Cut Copy have always remained faithful to the original, ’80′s-inspired synth-pop sound developed on such songs as “Saturdays” and “Future.”
2008′s follow-up, In Ghost Colours, found the band working to with complex new instrumentation, incorporating angelic choirs, distorted guitar riffs and heaven-sent soundscapes. Crunchier cuts like “Lights & Music” and “Hearts on Fire” demonstrated Cut Copy’s increasing New Wave influence, yet ultimately remained true to their underlying pop penchant.
Zonoscope–the band’s third studio album, to be released on February 8–finds Cut Copy taking their sound to still newer heights. Namely, outer space.
“I know we’re going crazy, but I need you now,” lead singer Dan Whitford sadly croons above a series of signature Cut Copy echoed coos and hazy, ambient electronica on the chorus of the album’s first single and opening track, “Need You Now.”
The song is a solid representation of what lies ahead: Intergalactic bleeps and blips, tribal disco rhythms, bleak lyricism and atmospheric sounds recalling that of French electro-master M83 all come together to texture the space-pop opus that is Zonoscope, Cut Copy’s most seamless and cohesive collection yet.
“Pharoahs & Pyramids,” another highlight on the album, finds the band working on top of a dazzling disco synth pattern, an abundance of hand-claps and bright, light electronica, somewhat reminiscent of Hercules & Love Affair‘s ’90′s House revivalism, while songs like “Take Me Over,” “Corner of the Sky” and the Beach Boys-esque “Where I’m Going” all recall the bouncy pop revelry of the band’s origins.
Aside from the album’s catchier cuts, it’s clear that Cut Copy have also decided to take a few chances and push their musical limits beyond the confines of a typical track on Zonoscope: “Strange Nostalgia for the Future,” for instance, works against a strangely looped string of organic electronica reminiscent of something one might hear on Sigur RÃ³s‘ Takk…, while “Sun God,” the album’s epic 16-minute tribal closer, plays like a 2011 update to Donna Summer‘s iconic disco number, “I Feel Love.”
“Please, please, please, won’t you give your love to me?” Whitford repeats again and again as the track slowly builds on top of grooving synthesizers and a driving percussion (plus cowbell!), ultimately giving way to spine-tingling waves of ambient rhythms and danceable synth grooves. It’s gorgeous, to say the least.
With dreamy electronica production and sublime, hook-filled pop songcraft, it seems the sky is not the limit for Cut Copy–they’re too busy exploring the stars.
“Take Me Over”
“Take Me Over (Thee Loving Hand Remix by Tim Goldsworthy)”
Zonoscope will be released on February 8. (iTunes)
“I’m not talking about making it free, I’m talking about making it freer,” M.I.A. announces on Vicki Leekx, which was released at midnight on December 31.
And so, she has: Vicki Leekx is M.I.A.’s second free mixtape after 2004′s Piracy Funds Terrorism, this time bolstered with a bit more star wattage on the production front thanks to the likes of Danja, Munchi, Diplo, Blaqstarr, Sugu Aruler, Switch, Rusko, and So Japan.
Fans who found themselves put off by the unpolished grit and wailing screeches of /\/\/\Y/\ will find much to love in the Vicki Leekx mixtape, a continuous mix that polishes the best gems from M.I.A.’s last album, wraps them around the bounciest beats of Arular and worldly influences of Kala, and then sends them speeding into the next century with stellar, intergalactic dubstep sound.
Vicki Leekx is a concentrated moment of mania, jumping between beats and samples at breakneck speed–from the Arular-esque electro-eclecticism of “Super Tight” to the tribal, “Boyz”-like “Tamil Beat Munchi” (which includes a brilliant moment in sampling with Nicki Minaj‘s verse on Kanye West‘s “Monster”), to the gloriously scathing “Generation -N-E-Y”–a track originally leaked on one of M.I.A.’s many odd, ugly .GIF-heavy landing pages that cropped up earlier in 2010. “You think you’re bad, you think you’re so fucking cool,” M.I.A. snarls above the song’s monstrously grinding beats. It’s an utterly major attitude attack–and arguably the mixtape’s finest moment.
To be fair, though–while the music is supreme, the politics remain hopelessly muddled. As Sputnik Music member Conrad Tao points out in his own review of the mixtape, M.I.A. is a seemingly endless barrage of contradictions. Apart from her own personal hypocrisies, it’s never really clear what M.I.A. is exactly criticizing (Money? The government? The Internet? Facebook? Hipsters? Everything?)–and to what to degree she’s even being serious. To try and analyze this mind-melting mishmash of sociopolitical motifs would prove impossible–there’s simply too many inconsistencies.
Yet political motivations (or non-motivations) aside, M.I.A. has rolled out a solid, concise production with deep, thumping beats and stuttering vocals that bang as hard as anything else released last year. Vicki Leekx is basically the epitome of why I first fell in love with M.I.A. back in 2005: It’s provocative, it’s addictive…but above all, it’s fucking cool.
For an album called No Boys Allowed, there sure are a lot of boys that came to play inside Miss Keri Baby‘s clubhouse.
Though she’s tried at length to explain her new album’s title–that No Boys Allowed a “no bitch ass-ness” kind of empowerment collection about ditching the little boys and uplifting women, it’s hard to drive that point home when the album’s guest-list is exclusively filled with men–especially when one of them is Chris Brown.
But putting the album title-content conflict aside, Miss Keri Baby has produced a worthy follow-up to her excellent and underrated 2009 debut, In A Perfect World… with No Boys Allowed, released on December 21.
Girlicious. Let’s talk about them, yes?
For those who somehow don’t know (I’d be more surprised if you did know, to be fair), Girlicious are the legendary*
Canadian girl group American girl group (EDIT: Not actually Canadian–their music is solely marketed there. Thanks, Muuser AJP!) formed by Pussycat Dolls founder Robin Antin during the smash hit* CW series, Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious.
There were originally four of them but now there are three, in what has surely become one of the greatest musical scandals of the 21st century* since Janet Jackson‘s Boobgate at the 2004 Superbowl and Britney‘s disastrous 2007 VMA performance.
Their latest single, “2 In The Morning,” recently shook up the charts* at #35, despite being nowhere as good as second single, “Maniac,” which bowed out at a formidable* #74.
Just two years after their iconic* self-titled debut dropped in stores, the girls are BACK with another record: Rebuilt.
And while I’m much too lazy to draft a proper review of the record, I’ve taken the liberty of snapping an EXCLUUSIVE SCREENSHOT of my iTunes library to see the stars I’ve allotted each song. This is a VERY RARE OPPORTUNITY* for Muusers to see the inner workings of MuuseTunes.
NOTE: There is a deluxe version with three new songs, but I’m lazy and haven’t gotten to all that yet. This is a review of the Standard Edition. Dealwidit.
And here we go:
Rebuilt is not very bad at all.
In fact, there are no less than three amazing songs (“Maniac,” “Grinding” and “What My Mama Don’t Know,” which kind of sounds like an Ashlee Simpson song in the chorus), as well as a fair share of nearly amazing ones, including the glitchy “Over You” and the v. good album ballad, “Unlearn Me,” which is obviously a 21st century update of Dannii Minogue‘s “Disremembrance.”
There are no actual stinkers on the record (“Wake Up” is a bit boring), though it’s a shame that “Hate Love” uses the same GarageBand drum loop as Rihanna‘s “Umbrella”–bit too close to home there.
Above all, Rebuilt is a good and fun ‘urban flavored’ dance-pop record, which makes it literally better than Messy Little Raindrops and Pink Friday.
That being said, Rebuilt is also very much the North American equivalent of Wordshaker by The Saturdays, which means I shall sit here idling my time and slowly twirling my thumbs until their Girls Aloud counterpart rolls around once more.
In conclusion: I miss the Pussycat Dolls.
*May or may not be slightly hyperbolic claim.
Rebuilt was released on November 22. (iTunes Canada)
For every Dr. Luke production, there is an equal and opposite Dr. Luke reproduction.
With Cannibal, Ke$ha takes her debut (Animal) and gives it the Lady Gaga repackaging formula that worked so well in 2009: As The Fame Monster is to The Fame, Cannibal is a one-upping the original Animal package with a thematically darker, harder hitting series of eight tracks produced by the top pop titans of the 21st century, including Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Bangladesh and Benny Blanco.