- 26 Aug 20
An Intricate Electronic Still Life.
Australian synth-pop group Cut Copy say their sixth album is “the most electronic album we’ve made, but also the least dance.” Inspired by a solitary Copenhagen winter, Freeze, Melt is brainy and minimal, evocative of Kraftwerk or The Books. Its clean rhythms and sparkling synths suggest more than they reveal, creating a beautiful stasis akin to a cold morning of freshly fallen snow.
Freeze, Melt is at its best when it holds back most. ‘Love Is All We Share’ is the most ambitious of the band’s exercises in restraint, which they compare to still life paintings. By the end of its six minute runtime, the track’s anaesthetised synths and robotic chirps take on a hypnotic rhythm that recalls William Babinski’s disintegration loops. ‘Cold Water’ manages to turn the tempo up on this minimal sound, building energy through arpeggiated chords straight out of a sci-fi movie.
These tracks don’t exactly tell stories; instead, they create sonic spaces through layering and repetition, the gradual accumulation of delicate noise. Throughout, frontman Dan Whitford’s vocals are sparse. When he emerges from the album’s misty atmosphere to sing about love and alienation, his voice is just another instrument to be processed and looped. The glitchy soundscape at the end of ‘In Transit’ is this composition style at its most evolved.
Freeze, Melt disappoints when Cut Copy lets the lush synth-pop of their earlier releases break the silence. Though ‘Like Breaking Glass’ is a solid 80s groove, it feels out of place on the otherwise austere project. And ‘Stop Horizon’, with its bright synth-guitar intro, sounds dangerously like a cell phone ringtone. But overall, Freeze, Melt is intricate, atmospheric electronica, as still and lovely as the Scandinavian winter that was its inspiration.