Cut Copy want to Free Your Mind, forcing you to simply let go via deep house grooves with acidic samples. The live-tronic group’s fourth LP mostly succeeds in this carefree, danceable separation of ego and id, except for one glaring issue: what in the name of grooviness is lyricist Dan Whitford doing with his voice? Sure, the aggressive acid house intros are intense, but what really throws you out of the moment is Whitford’s weird, out-of-tune glissandos (in English: sliding voice silliness).
This loud cover art already provokes skepticism, and when combined with Whitford’s cartoonish vocal effects, the spiritually-healthy theme of ‘kill your self-imposed bullshit hang-ups’ feels like a more dumbed down, Madison Avenue packaged form of psychedelia, a la “free your mind, man.” It also doesn’t help that the album’s very first lyrics, admirably touting self-reliance on the title track, are marred by this goofy approach. It’s a shame, because these opening lines really begin to scratch the surface of how to achieve the PLUR-topia Whitford wants: [LISTEN]
The caricature inflection seems especially silly on “Let Me Show You Love” [LISTEN] negating his commands to abandon inhibition. The super-catchy, super-cheesy ballad “Walking in the Sky” bogs down instead due to unintentional lyrical humor: [LISTEN]
However, Cut Copy’s impeccable control over the extended jam provides better ‘get out and shake it’ motivation than the original acid house influence it dips into. These grooves make up for those vocal missteps slowly but surely, and are how the band really reflect the album’s ethos. “We Are Explorers” [LISTEN] especially reminds us that we’re all just passengers on spaceship earth, dude, and the rave-ish drum circle bridge picks up the lyrics’ slack. It’s the album’s strongest ‘real’ song, followed by “Footsteps,” [LISTEN] which shuns the loveless claustrophobia of New York, a city that epitomizes Babylon and can’t really adapt to Whitford’s ‘we are all one consciousness’ vibe.
“Dark Corners & Mountain Tops” makes a quick detour from the dancefloor into Smith Westerns‘ indie synth pop style, with a similar puppy love theme, but the unsung winners of this album are the very Boards of Canada-ish interludes, which touch on very similar subject matter (out-of-body experiences, spiritual enlightenment through nature, clarity through implicit LSD use), but put a Cut Copy stamp on it with synthy, live instrumentation, starting and finishing with the ‘freedom’ theme.
In all, while it repeats itself, Free Your Mind does a good job of at least freeing your booty. But it could do better if Whitford quit the loopy delivery.