Happy 10th Anniversary to Cut Copy’s second studio album In Ghost Colours, originally released March 22, 2008.
Melbourne-based Dan Whitford started with a humble musical mission in 2001. In his words: “[In the 90’s, dance music] was a pretty segregated subculture. Grunge was king, and the two didn’t hang out together.” His fondness for both, and his yearning to unite the two, became the focus of Cut Copy.
It only took seven years for the band to finally realize the sound they were going for. Released in March 2008, their second studio album In Ghost Colours features a hue of 80’s revivalism throughout, with heavily reverbed vocals and synth bass in abundance. It features a raw dynamism notably lacking in its predecessor, their 2004 debut Bright Like Neon Love. Producer Tim Goldsworthy, former owner of DFA Records who produced early works by The Rapture and Hercules & Love Affair, is credited with bringing the band’s live performance style and texture to In Ghost Colours.
The emotion built into dancefloor anthems like “Hearts on Fire” and “Lights & Music” stunned many first-time listeners. “Out There On The Ice” features one of the most compelling dance music build-ups I’ve experienced, complete with live singalong material: “If that’s what it takes, then don’t let it tear us apart / Even if it breaks your heart.” These bangers—2008 is likely when I first used the term—are notably paired with interludes of shoegaze distortion (“We Fight For Diamonds,” “Midnight Runner,” “Silver Thoughts”). At its worst, the album is a bit disjointed. At its best: it’s relaxed, ethereal and lifelike.
With its textured experimentalism and refined dance-pop, In Ghost Colours sits squarely in the categories of “indie-dance” and “indie-electronic,” both of which were emerging at the time. Acknowledging influences ranging from Daft Punk to Steve Miller Band, Whitford explained to Tiny Mix Tapes: “There’s some pressure we put on ourselves not to sound like other people...In the end we’re trying to create something that hopefully sounds uniquely ours.”
It was a surprise for everyone, especially the band, to see this album debut at the top of the Australian ARIA Albums Chart. Yet there it was, neatly sandwiched between Jack Johnson’s Sleep Through the Static and Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad. The oddball new dance-punk kid at school, standing out in all the right ways.