This Melbourne quartet is relatively unknown in the UK, despite having released two albums prior to their latest electro-pop oeuvre. Why is this case? Their infectious melodies, laid back 80’s drum beats and flashes of synth make their album an easy-going, retro sensation; surely this would sell?
Well, therein lies the problem. While Cut Copy were releasing their second album Ghost in Colours, here in the UK Calvin Harris was creating disco all over again. We had no need of gaggle of Australians to tell us what was acceptable in the 80s – we had a Scotsman who could do that instead.
Regardless of the uber-inventive, dynamic image projected by the artwork, the album is at times so imitative that it ends up verging on pastiche. ’Take Me Over’, the lead single, is definitely a catchy little number , but it seems like that the band have been listening Rumours by Fleetwood Mac far too often on their tour bus. Imagine ‘Everywhere’ with a bit of extra action on the tom-toms and somehow you arrive at ‘Take Me Over’. From the track title ‘Blink and You’ll Miss a Revolution’, you would expect the band to be making some kind of a daring/unnecessary political statement. No. In fact, on hitting the play button, what greets you is the opening to Bananarama’s ‘Cruel Summer’. Disappointing – not to mention slightly confusing.
However, there are moments on the album that are easily as good as the legends of synth-pop. The relentlessly pulsing ’Need You Now’ is an atmospheric and infectious track, with smooth vocals, reminiscent of the pioneers of electro.
In spite of pretentious track titles, these songs would make your house party the height of retro-cool. Their lyricism isn’t going win any awards, ‘Please, please, please, please won’t you give your love to me,’ but then when has synth-pop ever been about anything as dull as words?
All in all, Zonoscope is a cocktail of influences and yes, sometimes it can feel as if you might as well have raided your parents’ CD collection. However, amongst all this chaotic nostalgia there a few moments when you might just hear something that makes you sit up and pay attention, something that is, in fact, very twenty-first century.
By Katherine Travers