Critical Voices: Cut Copy, Free Your Mind

November 6, 2013

Although festival season has come to a close, Cut Copy’s fourth full-length release, Free Your Mind, is worthy of nothing less than the floral crowns and tank tops that listeners will don come springtime. The band is back with the same heavy dose of nostalgia that they have toted throughout their career, only this time their sound has been molded into what could be a 50-minute live set for thousands of eager fans.

The Australian foursome’s blend of energetic synthpop and their exaggerated flower child persona leads to an engaging, dancy feel. After the unnecessary “Intro,” “Free Your Mind” bumps the LP to life with a deep, engaging breakbeat. This beat employs the punchy, squelching sound of acid house, which peaked in popularity in the mid-80s rave culture, to carry the title-track persistently forward. Dan Whitford’s distorted vocals, clamorous percussion, and swelling synth lines layer on top, eventually leading to a cathartic peak.

The thumpy acid house sound revived in the second track is a recurring experiment throughout the LP. “We Are Explorers” is the pinnacle of the album’s euphoric sound. Cut Copy’s signature peppiness constructs an exemplary festival hit, complete with hand drums and tambourines.

Though the whole album sounds like it has been buried for decades, “In Memory Capsule” is particularly nostalgic, reminiscent of stadium-sized 80s pop-rock jams. Cut Copy also dabble outside their favorite decade, with songs like “Take Me Higher” and “Walking In The Sky,” which are both grounded in the sounds of late 60s flower child pop.

The shape of the songs on Free Your Mind stays extremely consistent—and not always in a good way. Every track begins with a catchy riff and slowly builds up to an energetic climax. This energy is sustained as long as possible before the layered sound tumbles apart and the song abruptly transitions into the next. This repetition renders the album tedious once the excitement of its first few tracks has worn off.

The formulaic song shape, paired with Whitford’s ultra-repetitive, straightforward lyrics cause this LP to blend into a dance soundtrack, which, although perfect for a live, outdoor set, doesn’t leave much to chew on in its recorded form. Free Your Mind may be repetitive and simple, but if anything is to be repeated over the entirety of a full-length release, Cut Copy’s carefree, sun-soaked sound is about as good as it gets.


Voice’s Choices: “Free Your Mind,” “We Are Explorers”

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