Cut Copy and Their Quest to Free Our Minds
Before the official release of Free Your Mind, Cut Copy had had released two singles off the album; Let Me Show You Love, and the title track, Free Your Mind. Not long ago they also released the Fabio-esque video for Free Your Mind, featuring Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgard (yes, that Alexander Skarsgard—the guy portraying that smoldering vampire from that show called True Blood). About halfway through the video, Skarsgard ditched his robe and walked around shirtless, as it appeared that him and his hobo hair was the leader of a cult of misfits. It’s safe to say that the video attracted more pair of eyes and prospective listeners, being what could be said as the perfect fuel to generate the hype for Cut Copy’s upcoming album.
Free Your Mind is the fourth studio album from Cut Copy, out early in November 2013, following the 2011 release of Zonoscope. The press release for the album had stated that it was inspired by the 1967 and 1988-1989 Summers of Love, the periods during the rise of acid house music and MDMA-fuelled rave parties. While I’d gotten a little taste of the album from the two singles that had been released weeks before, twenty one seconds into the album, I was still not entirely sure what to expect. The first track is an intro, an ominous track that persuades you to ‘free your mind’. I suppose the intro is intended to be a warm up to prepare you before the record jumps to the title track, Free Your Mind; a song that is heavy with acid house vibe and consists of Roland-esque bass squelches, 4/4 beats, and reverb-laden ascending piano lines. Free Your Mind is a likable corker, a welcoming entry point, while the next track, We Are Explorers is a bouncy disco hit. It reminds us of the glam of the 80s disco, when you tone down some of the excitement and add more solemn psychedelic specks into it. There’s also Meet Me in a House of Love, the 10th track of the album, with chirping synths and faux saxophones that lend Free Your Mind some buoyancy. The album closes with Mantra, a track which features chant-like vocals that encourage you to (yup, again) “Free your mind,” and as it tries to do so, slowly the cosmic track fades out.
It seems that with more than a decade under their belt, Cut Copy still know how to effectively use all their crafty elements to leave their followers joyously satisfied. In true Cut Copy style, Free Your Mind is dripping with beats that land heavy and strong; keyboards and synths that ring out like beacons of truth; and Dan Whitford’s vocal that veers more towards the dance-rock frontmen from the acid house era, like The Stone Roses’ Ian Brown, and Primal Scream’s Bobby Gilespie. But now Whitford’s voice sounds more accented than on his previous records, while still managing to posses the feathery wraith-like quantity.
All in all, the tracks in Free Your Mind are pretty basic, lyrically and thematically speaking. It’s filled with trippy, corny-but-fun lyrics that are flat and repetitive, that the tracks could have been real anthems at the Summers of Love that took place decades ago, had they existed back then. “Don’t need no gravity to hold our love in place,” sang Dan Whitford on Let Me Show You Love, a lyrical cliché. But we shouldn’t be expecting to find some meaning of life at the bottom of acid house lyrics, anyway. So lyrics aside, the problem is there are some slightly overlong tracks, that at the end fall as dull. Another thing that’s such a shame, though, is the placement of short interludes the band put in between some of their songs. These threatened to pull listeners out of the euphoria the band had worked so hard to send them to. But despite the minor misses, Free Your Mind is full of the 80s radio hits that never were. It’s an album that surely can get the early acid house pioneers such as Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold, and Nicky Holloway to smile as they reminisce about the Golden Age of Dance.