I often find it essential to make the distinction between a “fan” and a “critic,” particularly when it comes to music blogs and that distinction becomes blurry to the point of nonexistence. When I choose to review an album, am I doing it as a critic (“I may not personally like this, but I can see the appeal, look at it in relation to its contemporaries, and realize this is significant and you should know about it”) or as a fan (“My personal aesthetic loves this, maybe yours will too”). It is this reason I have avoided talking about Cut Copy’s new album since it was released a month ago, urging myself to take a few steps back to contemplate the meaning of choosing Cut Copy’s 2004 Bright Like Neon Love as best album of 2006 in relation to my immediately positive reception. I pointed out the simple lyrics, examined the heavy pop hooks, and questioned the reliance on voiceless segues that needlessly bulk up the track number (6 of the 15) but to no avail: In Ghost Colours is still an incredible record, fan or critic.
From “Lights & Music,” the italo disco based single that glitters brighter than its following segue “We Fight for Diamonds”, to the moody “Strangers in the Wind,” a bi-polar self-discourse in uncertainty, the album is the veritable definition of positive psychology’s “flow,” a term commonly referred to as “in the zone,” “in the groove,” or what we may now refer to as In Ghost Colours. While the genre ultimately depends on rhyme and shallow meditation is often interrupted by the inclusion of several elements both unrealistically brilliant (acoustic guitars) and characteristically appropriate (reliance on synth, of course, lots of synth), it adequately fulfills the requirements and makes decent headway on originality – if melody is the key ingredient, Cut Copy, as always, provides an ample serving. Even the worst bits, those seemingly needless interludes, provide breathing room to what is sometimes an overwhelming auditory overload (“So Haunted” is so huge it both begs repetition and acknowledges the futility of it – will that segue from electric guitars to pure keyboard ever sound the way it did when you didn’t see it coming?).
Nothing is as wonderful as the implication that a record can be both critically and personally brilliant – one that can be debated not just from an agenda, but from the musical cradle it both fills and rocks. In Ghost Colours may not be very practical – it’s still essentially an electronic/dance record with both an atmosphere and audience box to check – but surely the apathy that marks any hipster has never sounded so inclusive. Or been so danceable.