My good pal Chaad Gramlich was my musical guru from 2004 to 2006. We ripped his entire iTunes library and dumped it into mine. Cut Copy was in the first load. I paid my debts by buying all subsequent albums and seeing them on a visit to San Fran in 2011. So when I read on Chaad’s FB status “the new Cut Copy is basically Dance Mix ’94 and it’s the best,” I figured I was in for a treat.
Now this was a creative release of a record. With six billboards worldwide that read Free Your Mind, all you had to do was find one (in the middle of nowhere) and you could stream the single “Free Your Mind”. With a scheme like that, it came as no surprise that Alexander Skarsgård played a beautiful abstract role in the video for the title track [see below]. What came as a surprise was the album, and how I didn’t love it.
The only problem with a reprise of Dance Mix ’94 is that no one wants to listen to it on repeat. I enjoyed the album, I did not enjoy repeating it for review, suddenly all the songs were duplicates. I like a good story album, beginning, middle, and end and this album rested in middle vibe the whole way through. Listening to it front-to-back or playing it on shuffle would make no difference to the pace, especially with the trio of interpretive interludes constantly interrupting.
That being said, if you’re getting into some late night cloud-of-smoke apartment dancing, then this may be your jam – all upbeat, medium-tempo tracks perpetually reminding you to nod your head and shake your tail. This is a good dance album, just not a cutting edge/groundbreaking one. Maybe it’s the 4/4 house vibe that puts me off, as it’s a definite transition from their staple synth-pop sound.
The album is categorically electronic house dance music. The distinct rhythm and sound of Cut Copy are there – all synth beats and percussive loops – what’s new is the heavy lean on house beats. “Let Me Show You Love” is a good example of the off-beat hi-hats and disco synth of classic house music.
What was missing from this album was the gripping hook tracks their other albums had laced throughout. All the tracks were about a 6.5/10 with none of them catching your brain fibre enough to get stuck in your head until you played it again. In fact, the album’s ‘free your mind’ mantra put me in a position where I would swear to free my mind in order to escape listening to that song again.
That said, “Walking in the Sky”, the second to last track on the album set me out to sail on rolling waves. The harmonies, the looping chord progressions felt like fingers playing in my hair as I rested for sleep. Perhaps I need to let up a little and be thankful for the positive message, spiritually-charged vibe, and consistent upbeat nature that is Cut Copy.
Watch “Free Your Mind”, starring Alexander Skarsgård, directed by Christopher Hill: