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Album Review: Freeze, Melt (2020), by Cut Copy

 Cut Copy Announce New Album 'Freeze, Melt', Share New Single "Cold Water":  Listen - StereogumAustralian synth-pop outfit Cut Copy have developed quite a bit since they started making music about 20 years ago. Specifically, they've gone from making 80s-inspired, dance hall, "get you out of your seat" type music to something much more atmospheric and cerebral. But they've always, in my opinion, combined the old and the new, the intellectual and the guttural, and stayed on the cutting edge artistically, better than any other band I know. For me, Cut Copy continue to stand in a league of their own, resisting categorization as they continue to make good albums you want to listen to over and over. 

The group's latest album, Freeze, Melt, is an eight-song, 40 minute effort that follows on 2017's Haiku from Zero, my personal favorite Cut Copy album. Haiku from Zero was a sprawling, varied album that at times felt like a journey around the world and through time, as the band borrowed from the musical traditions of seemingly every continent but kept it, for the most part, fun and upbeat and (for lack of a better word) Cut Copy-ish: that is, complex and original, but strongly rooted in the basic drive to get people dancing. 

Freeze, Melt is a decidedly more moody, pensive, and in many ways darker album that is so consistent it feels at times like one long song, rather than eight individual ones. According to most critics -- and even looking at the album's title -- Freeze, Melt is a "climate change" album; however, other than a reference or two to the ocean, or the world breaking in two, or oblique statements like "love is all we have," the album does not feel overtly apocalyptic. 

I wouldn't call this a "climate change" album so much as a "weather" album. To me the album's signature track is "Rain," but in fact, the entire album feels like rain. The driving, multi-part beats that pay homage to Kraftwerk, Phillip Glass, and Steward Copeland create their own atmosphere and in those atmospheres it always seems to be precipitating. 

Songs like "Rain" and the album's first track "Cold Water" are just begging to be used in a movie scene in which the lonely main character walks the streets on a wet, grey evening as a montage of images from his past plays in his head. Or perhaps that only happens in 80s films and it's just that Cut Copy has always been under girded by a deep 80s snyth-pop sensibility. Either way, there is an undoubtedly cinematic quality at work here. 

To me Freeze, Melt stands out as the band's least "dancey" album, but perhaps its most coherent musical statement. Still, I admit I am left slightly unsatisfied by Freeze, Melt, as though I wanted some part of it, even just one song, to really blow me away or, as they did in Haiku from Zero, take me on such a long and bizarre journey, exploring every corner of the musical landscape, as to leave nothing left to be desired. But Freeze, Melt has got enough texture and intricacy and catchy rhythms in it to keep me going back to it endless dozens of times (if not a dozen already).