The Rapture - Echoes
Before the post-punk revival hit the big time a few years later, these lads from America melded the tight rhythms and lacerating guitars of Gang of Four to modern dance textures with the help of the now-fashionable-but-then-unknown DFA production. The album wears its influences on its sleeve (aside from the extremely favourable comparison above, they cross-reference countless songs and bands throughout this set; from the Detroit-bound retro drum machine and acid synths of ' Olio ' to ' Echoes ', which rips off the tune of Public Image Ltd.'s ' Careering ' before breaking down into something resembling a Dead Kennedys song) but it comes out sounding fresh even after more than six years since it was released, its many musical hyperlinks appearing more like homages than anything derivative. If only they could ever recapture this gem of an album.
LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
And then we had this extravaganza.
A 'proper album', 'Sound of Silver' has a real structure. From the opening bubbles of 'Get Innocuous' to the very end of the closing track, the entire album works as a perfect whole. In fact, 'New York I Love You' is one of the best finales to an album since David Bowie's 'Rock 'N' Roll Suicide', the song to which James Murphy's ode to the great metropolis owes an awful lot. But in between the beginning and the end, there is a genuine substance which is rare in the disposable modern world of downloads and MP3 players – a cohesive backbone of consistently brilliant songwriting. 'Someone Great' is a beautiful song about loss. Its musical backing was lifted from the previous release 45:33 but it fits the stunningly emotional lyrics very naturally, every bittersweet ping of glockenspiel (?) oozing with regret as much as the way Murphy recounts his loss. Nothing breaks my heart as much as the line “Because, what's the difference”. The world does keep turning even when we are in grief or in total internal emotional turmoil, as impossible as it seems to the person who feels such a void. Theories conflict over this song and its meaning but to me, it must be about death. Only something so final, so hopeless could provoke words like this.
It is followed by the wonderful plod of 'All My Friends', a song about how our experiences (i.e. bereavement etc.) change us as people and cause us to lose touch with our friends and our former lives. Aptly, I think Murphy recaptures some of those good times with this song.
Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
I have to make a confession at this point. When I first heard 'In Ghost Colours' on the day it was released while doing some revision on a boiling hot day, I didn't like it very much. It took a long time for me to like this album, perhaps because it had moved on so much from their previous release ' Bright Like Neon Love ' that it frightened me. Thankfully, something made me see sense and I spent the summer of 2008 starting to adore it.
They were never going to produce something with the lyrical maturity of 'Sound of Silver' but that really doesn't matter, as these sixteen tracks (I'm including the bonus track 'Cold Youth' here) encapsulate some of the most joyous electronic pop music I have ever heard, providing a voyage through the history of synth pop and dance music at the same time. 'Out There on the Ice' walks straight into the club, condensing the acid synths, the romances and the drugs of a long, urban night into a mere five minutes with one of the sturdiest electronic rhythms of the decade. The genius in Cut Copy, however, is their ability to weave all kind of magnificent melodies and gorgeous synth textures into such a solid rhythmic framework. Numerous short, beatless segues link all of the main tracks, giving the album the feel of a mix without ruining songs by constantly fading them in and out of one another. And, for all of their ability to make the hipsters dance, songs like 'Lights and Music' deserve a place in the (sadly underpopulated) category of quality pop music. In spite of its unfortunate misuse in a sofa advert, 'Lights and Music' still excites me after dozens and dozens of plays. The dramatic drop before the thudding chorus makes my hair stand every time. It's taken me through infatuations, through floodlit nights, through drunkenness, through the lot, and it feels just at home in the clubs as in the charts. The mileage that this album has given me and the ridiculous number of times I have played it (many on CD so they won't be logged on Last.fm) has given me a ridiculous number of associations. Similar to Pavlov's dog, certain sounds trigger certain thoughts. “If you believe a hand on your sleeve can pull you over” from 'Far Away' is definitely a football line, which makes me think of someone clumsily conceding a penalty for shirt-tugging in the box; 'Nobody Lost, Nobody Found' makes me think of arriving in a very warm, very nice Mediterranean country in front of a beautiful red sunset.
Definitely not guitar-phobes, Cut Copy plunge their closing evocation of teenage infatuations 'Cold Youth' into a mess of Sonic Youth feedback. I love these guys.