With Free Your Mind, Cut Copy looks to continue the all-night dance party they’ve been MCing since Bright Like Neon Love, complete with eye-searing DayGlo artwork. Cut Copy’s sound has one gear, and Dan Whitford and company clearly relish its speed, all but reveling in the trancelike grooves of their nü-disco club beats. Like Wild Beasts and Hot Chip, these Australian electro-revelers refuse to bow to some impetus for reinvention, indulging in their swirling dance-floor fare with an insular devotion.
But Cut Copy’s success is largely predicated on a supply of catchy pop melodies, without which the group is no more effective or fun than mechanical dance-punk acts like !!!. To that end, Free Your Mind reveals some wear and tear on Cut Copy’s synth-pop formula. The album’s hooks aren’t nearly as tight as their predecessors’, nor elastic enough to act as the looping centerpieces of Cut Copy’s lengthier songs—a weakness exacerbated by the fact that many of Free Your Mind’s tracks tend to push or exceed the five-minute mark.
Zonoscope’s “Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat” is demonstrative of the group at the peak of their powers, boasting two separate but robust refrains whose eventual conjunction served as the track’s club-rupturing coup de grâce. Ditto other past gems like “Saturdays” and “Out There on the Ice.” While the songs on Free Your Mind are still relatively catchy, the album lacks those kinds of memorable, funky dance anthems: “We Are Explorers” dallies in the kind of starry, handclap-riddled dance-floor aesthetics of which Cut Copy is so fond, but this time the riffs seem pilfered from previous albums. Considering their rather straightforward musical blueprint, every Cut Copy album is a bit of a recycle job, but Free Your Mind seems excessively so, almost to the point of motorized lifelessness.
The album is unfocused as a result, something that’s rarely associated with Cut Copy’s laser-like work. When not trudging through overly long tracks like “Let Me Show You Love” or clumsily paced ballads like “Walking in the Sky,” the group attempts some M83-like vignettes in the form of moody, sample-filled tracks, which are numerous (five in all), but entirely inconsequential. Cut Copy plows forward on Free Your Mind’s latter tracks, especially “Take Me Higher,” but the neon-slicked dynamism that defined their songwriting for three straight albums is absent, leaving their once-sleek, libertine melodies unwieldy and limp.