Electronic music seems to be reliving its childhood this year - a golden age of synthesizers that adorned traditional song structures. Back when Gary Numan sang about "Cars," he punctuated verses with a chorus, then flooded the recipe with heaps of dramatic synth.
That all broke down when electronica came of age and Stereolab redundantly pondered the meaning of society on Emperor Tomato Ketchup. During the '90s, Stereolab unleashed mainstream electronic music into a free-form wonderland populated with continuous loops, dooming the marriage of chorus and verse.
Now, electronica seems to be nostalgic for the pop family it abandoned more than a decade ago. Like the Brooklyn-based band Santogold, Australia's Cut Copy is taking the song-based influences of '80s New Wave and remaking it with 21st-century ingredients.
Santogold fuses dub and electropop in remarkably original ways that last for an entire album. Cut Copy's success is much less consistent. Twice on In Ghost Colours, the band creates breathtaking tracks. The opener, "Feel the Love," invokes a trill of flute-like synth to build an ethereal New Age sound with bursts of acoustic guitar, breezy percussion and robotic voiceovers.
"Unforgettable Season" is rooted in a minor-key bass line, blooming like U2 songs did in the desert sun of The Joshua Tree.
So what's the problem? There are 13 other songs on this disc. Some are brief and none are terrible. But too many sound like direct descendents (if not the long-lost twin) of Depeche Mode.
If you're an MP3 collector, there's every reason to feel Cut Copy's love. But there aren't enough reasons to buy their CD.