Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours

It’s been a while since Cut Copy released their world-conquering debut Bright Like Neon Love, but the Modular wunderkids are finally back with the follow up In Ghost Colours – and they’re looking to step things up a notch. Barely in the country to unveil it with a few shows at the V Festival nationally, they’ll be heading back overseas for a solid block of international touring that’ll go on for who knows how long. With that much pressure on the trio, you’d better hope that their follow up has the substance to warrant all the attention; we’ve certainly been made to wait long enough. So what’s the verdict?

As expected, In Ghost Colours is again an album that draws together the sweaty live energy of an indie rock gig with the synths and bleeps of house and electronica, along with the ever-present 80s influence and now, even a dash of 60s psychedelia thrown in for good measure. But ultimately, all this is just a distraction: what’s really gonna grab people here is the emotion-drenched pop melodies. We’ve already had a taste from the singles Lights and Music, So Haunted and of course, last year’s euphoric Hearts on Fire; but this tendency towards powerful harmonies is even more pronounced on the album. And it definitely sets them apart: all too often the bands that embraced the indie/electro sound also brought with it a –  “too-cool-for school’ attitude, an aloof sense of New Wave detachment; but there’s none of that here. When was the last time you were genuinely moved and swept up in the choruses of an indie/dance band? That’s what’s in store with In Ghost Colours.

But then again, all those exhilarating melodies wouldn’t have nearly as much impact if the execution wasn’t so clever, and also just a little bent. As guitarist Tim Hoey said in a recent interview, “We kind of like it when pop music gets a little weird.” And frontman Dan Whitford’s vocals are so much more expressive and involving than what anybody would have thought he was capable of: you’re never quite sure where he’s gonna take you next, and he’s largely responsible for the album’s haunting undertone, though you can never quite put your finger on what it is. But helping this along is Cut Copy’s distinct blending of indie rock and electronica, in ways that are often unexpected and unpredictable. In a similar fashion to Bright Like Neon Love, it’s about more than just throwing in an electro bassline and a few handclaps behind a chunky guitar riff. Straightforward rock songs like Unforgettable Season sit comfortably alongside brazen club tunes like Out There on the Ice and of course Hearts on Fire, along with even a few ambient interludes that build the tension beautifully. It’s this combination which makes for an album that’s surprisingly deep, varied and gripping.

But as mentioned before, it’s the pop choruses that lie at the heart of In Ghost Colours. Interestingly, all of these songs would have worked with your standard guitar/bass/drums combo, but what sets them apart is how all the different musical elements lock together so effortlessly. And the So Haunted single makes for a great case study of that: the wailing guitars that open the song, the electro synths present in the mix without needing to dominate, the shrill guitar solo that breaks out in the middle along with that chorus: part of you might be cringing on how close it borders on being cheesy, but trying to resist humming along is just a waste of time.

So what have we got here? Genius songwriting, an inventive and creative approach to musicality along with a heavy dose of slick studio polish. It’s got it all basically, and while on the surface it’s very much a rock/pop album, lovers of deeper sounds and glitchier electronic music will find plenty to enjoy here. Like a lot of other people perhaps, I was expecting something that was catchy and easy to listen to; but the sum of all the album’s different parts is something that’s a lot more involving than that. Bright Like Neon Love may have been memorable, but this blasts it out of the water. An emotional rush from beginning to end, In Ghost Colours delivers way more than we’ve come to expect from the indie/electro movement. Best album of ‘08 so far.

Have a look at the tracklisting...

1 Feel the Love

2 Out There on the Ice

3 Lights & Music

4 We Fight for Diamonds

5 Unforgettable Season

6 Cold Youth

7 Midnight Runner

8 So Haunted

9 Voices in Quartz

10 Hearts on Fire

11 Far Away

12 Silver Thoughts

13 Strangers in the Wind

14 Visions

15 Nobody Lost, Nobody Found

16 Eternity One Night Only

And check out the clip for _Lights & Music_...