Album Review: Cut Copy - Free Your Mind
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Cut Copy return in the third summer of love, with an album influenced by the likes of Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, and The Stone Roses.
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Acid house hit in the late eighties, taking route in Manchester where the hedonism and mind-blowing new sounds infiltrated everything including guitar music. By 1991 it had spread to Glasgow birthing Screamadelica. Why does this matter? You ask.
It matters more than you could ever imagine - Jagwar Ma, Django Django, and Hot Chip can back me up on this. Artists have taken this sound formed during the praised 'Madchester' era, and used it to their advantage. This music takes us on a journey, much like the proclaimed journey of the psychedelic drugs LSD and MDMA.
Cut Copy are the latest lot to hark back to the 'free your mind' ethos of 87 to 91 period.
Titular single, aptly called, 'Free Your Mind' energises and defines Cut Copy's fourth studio album. Its been produced by famed Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev producer Dave Fridmann, to add that psychedelia imagery and texture to Cut Copy's sound. Fridmann has spotted weaknesses, and decided to patch them up with the same instruments that earned Primal Scream the first Mercury Prize in 1992.
To follow this up, 'We Are Explorers', the third track, completely avenges LCD Soundsystem and James Murphy's retirement of that project. Cut Copy are using their synthesizers, heavier than usual, to create a trance-like sound that's both perfect for late night listening, and party dance music.
The band continue to progress their sound and future with a house track in the shape of 'Let Me Show You'. It has the synthesizer note riff powerful enough to come across as a post-1980 Suicide riff, with Whitford's reverberated vocals akin to Alan Vega.
'Footsteps' is reminiscent of the rave scene spawned from The Haçienda in Manchester. There’s a great synthesizer flanger riff, with the hard hitting squishy bass found on the old Chicago acid house recordings that were created with a Roland TB-303. Cut Copy are very much playing to the 80s / 90s kid with Free Your Mind. It's not all pure baggy/Madchester music, as 'In Memory Capsule' takes listeners back to Cut Copy's earlier days.
Free Your Mind is the rightful follow-up to Primal Scream's Screamadelica. Cut Copy are taking in all aspects of sound and influences, using their knowledge with three previous electronic albums to create what is essentially an acid house / alternative dance masterpiece.
'Take Me Higher' is a nod to Primal Scream's 'Higher Than The Sun', and perhaps a sly nod to Sly & The Family Stone's psychedelic soul single 'I Wanna Take You Higher'. It's another banger, featuring on an album with no filler, only killer dance tunes for those wanting a break from their lives. Where the classic house instrumentals were profusely minimal, Cut Copy do the opposite with Free Your Mind.
Perhaps the biggest and most historically fused track on Free Your Mind is the tenth track 'Meet Me In A House of Love'. Apart from its artistic title; the musical content blows the concept out in the open. Whitford sings: "Once I was lost, but in this house I can be found," a coy pun towards the genre they're emulating, and the album title - Free Your Mind.
That's the feeling transmitted with these back album tracks, especially on the penultimate track which is the essential closer, 'Walking In The Sky'. Again, Whitford sings a lyric closely related to the albums concept: "You've got to live your life today, tomorrow is a world away." An uplifting closer to complete a set of songs which all point to space rock themes. 'Walking In The Sky', 'Above The City', 'Free Your Mind', 'Take Me Higher' - they're all pointing upwards, towards the heavens ('Movin' On Up', 'Higher Than The Sun', 'Shine Like Stars'.)
Cut Copy's Free Your Mind is as religiously inclined and directed at a greater being, as Spiritualized in 1997. And nobody can miss the blatant Primal Scream / The 13th Floor Elevators references throughout this album, especially on 'Meet Me In A House of love' ('Slip Inside This House').
Free Your Mind is made up of nine key bulky tracks, all of which are superb and memorable. The five interludes / outros are integral to the overall feel and flow of Cut Copy's fourth album.
Without them, it would just be a compilation of alternative dance recordings. It's these tracks featuring vocal samples like 'Mantra' and 'Above The City' that completes the picture.
Cut Copy needed to add their own plaque, in order for this album to come across more than just a cut and paste copy. It's actually Whitford's vocals that put Free Your Mind on the board as one of 2013's best albums.
Long-time fans might not like this, they might not even get this; that's all for their minds to accept or dismiss. They've taken the aging sound of house and sprayed an array of freshener over it. The titular track is nothing short of genius, and 'Take Me Higher' may just be the best Cut Copy track to date.
Free Your Mind is an example of how a band can create an era, a sound, an idea - like Bobby Gillespie and his posse in the 90s. The concept, may not be an outspoken one, but it's intentional. Cut Copy, having played the genre for a decade, are freeing up their choices and direction, and at the same time are teaching audiences to free their minds, as the album cover so blatantly portrays.