Where In Ghost Colours (2008) was robust, Cut Copy’s new record Haiku From Zero feels ramshackle. If that reads as an insult, it is, their new record is bright and dancy on a first listen and mostly empty and crumbling by a fourth. As 80’s nostalgia continues to disappear in favor of whatever elements have resale value from the 90’s, Cut Copy continues down a path they have traveled before—when they wrote better songs.
Free Your Mind (2013), Cut Copy’s last record, was a moving electropop opus that went mostly ignored in favor of M83 fandom, but it contained in its tracks the reasons why this set of stylized songlessness can’t be as compelling. If dance music has taught us one thing it’s that production can only be the icing; it makes a lousy cake. They followed up Free Your Mind with a limited release ambient cassette—January Tape that appeased neither their fanbase nor the ambient/new wave fan boys who exist on message boards with pictures of deserts as their icons. It was a misstep, albeit a fun one. Haiku From Zero takes another step in the wrong direction in regard to both of those records.
“Black Rainbows” sounds like the collaboration between Wham and Abba that we never wanted. “Counting Down” combines easy rhyme with a melody that gets weaker each repeat. “Stars Last Me A Lifetime” sings like an attempt at an 80’s drama credits roll track. Its not that its bad, but it is unsubstantial. The flowing bridge section brings some relief, but the tempo is middling and can’t hit a ballad or hyped groove. “No Fixed Destination” combines Com Truise synths with a slacker anthem for the generation that sees a down payment on a mortgage like a permanent detention.
Two notable exceptions are the opening track and “Airborne”. “Standing in the Middle of the Road” creates tension and then gives you the full groove, circling the airport in a holding pattern of cowbell and echoes until we jump to hyperspace. “Airborne” is instantly infectious and the sticky, tight groove is the perfect Spotify playlist addition. With only nine tracks to begin with, the whole thing screams “finish me”. Perhaps a couple more months in the oven could have brought this record to a better place.
Cut Copy’s record from 2011, Zonoscope, had deep house influenced pop, moving like a steam engine through a dystopian town. It had Kraftwerk nods and descended from the best places in German electronica. Haiku From Zero has none of its strength in songs or clarity of goal. The electro-funk mixed with the alternative dance and light tropicalia percussion ends up tasting like pizza and pie and popsicles all at the same time. It isn’t that this record is bad, its just meh. C PLUS