What if the '80s were cool? That’s the alternate reality you’re presented with on Melbourne outfit Cut Copy's second record and this week's Classic Album, In Ghost Colours.
Produced by DFA’s Tim Goldsworthy, this follow up to their well received debut was a sophisticated effort that radiated confidence and class.
It sparked a big demand for the band overseas, which resulted in constant northern hemisphere touring and support slots with Daft Punk. They became so busy that they even had to knock back a massive tour with Lady Gaga.
Although it made plenty of end of year album lists in 2008, some of In Ghost Colours deft and elegant touches still fly beneath the radar. Upon its release, Cut Copy’s Dan Whitford explained the idea behind the album title to Richard Kingsmill.
"The ghosting affect on the cover is a bit like a lot of photographers that we like. You would take a photograph, then project it, then re-photograph it then do it over and over until it distorts.
"I guess that’s a bit of an analogy to the music as well. Listening to a record over and over and then creating your own music from it is almost like creating ghost colours. Like you’re sort of channeling these voices from the past in your own music."
There’s audible echoes of '80s music throughout this standout Australian electronic album. Ingested, admired then re-dreamed. On In Ghost Colours, these influences come together to help form a cohesive and satisfying listening experience.
Here are 5 voices from the '80s that reverberate through this Cut Copy album...
New Order’s influence is extensive and the '80s was a huge decade for them. They transformed what guitars and dance music could do together, something that Cut Copy has taken and run with.
Hear this in Cut Copy’s 'Hearts On Fire', 'Out There On The Ice', 'Far Away', 'Lights & Music'.
Fleetwood Mac’s 14th album, Tango in the Night is a firm Cut Copy favourite. Soak up the Mac's MOR warmth and stately emotional melodies on Cut Copy tracks like 'Strangers In The Wind' and 'Feel The Love'.
My Bloody Valentine drops you into a dazed headspace with their layers of building sounds. Check Cut Copy songs like ‘So Haunted’, 'We Fight For Diamonds' which moves into 'Unforgettable Season'.
They dial back the distortion and sludgy MBV intensity, but the nosediving guitars recall tracks from the You Made Me Realise EP.
The uncrowded, unhurried and surreal ambience of the prolific Tangerine Dream is an enduring influence throughout electronic music.
The feeling of boundlessness and shifting horizons they create rhythmically and melodically is evident in Cut Copy’s many song interludes which pulse and creep, like 'Voice In Quartz'.
Dan Whitford is a big fan of Jeff Lynne’s songcraft and production skills. Whitford and Goldsworthy first bonded over their shared appreciation of ELO. In particular their 1981 release Time. This song is an electric and joyful charge, a feeling emulated in many In Ghost Colours' key tracks.
In his book Acceptable in the '80s, author and radio producer Craig Schuftan acknowledges Doc and Marty’s flight into the past to save the future. He writes that, in our rush to find the next big thing, we leave ourselves in danger of forgetting all we’ve left behind.
Cut Copy weren't so hasty in discarding the past. Instead, they put their appreciation of '80s music to great use. They tapped its vibrancy and its innovations to fashion their own modern classic.