Cut Copy - Free Your Mind

Sandwiched between two distinct eras of '00s dance music, FYM's celebration of '90s acid house makes it a curious anachronism


Acid House

2013

Free Your Mind is the kind of unapologetically jubilant record that wouldn't ever pop up on my radar ordinarily. It's direct, romantic and nostalgic, driven by a shameless adoration of '80s/'90s UK acid house. It peddles neither heartbreak nor sleaze; it's just incredibly sincere about creating a familiar sound to have a good (presumably esctasy-fueled) time to.

"We Are Explorers" turns the clock back to 1993, with a whiff of Republic-era New Order audible on the beat. The pitched-up vocal sample and classic TB-303 squelchy electronic bass that kicks off "Meet Me In The House Of Love" combines Saint Etienne's ear for summer-y melodies with the thudding beats of neon-lit Eurodance classics: 2Unlimited, Haddaway, Real McCoy -- you name it, and there's probably a hint of it here.

At points, the record comes off as a spiritual successor to the bible of Madchester acid house, Primal Scream's Screamadelica. The vocal resemblance to Bobby Gillespie is obvious on "Let Me Show You Love", even beneath the rave sirens. And if it wasn't too on the nose already, "Walking in the Sky" is a re-imagining of Screamadelica's comedown opus "Higher than the Sun", a hymn to the glorious zenith of substance-dabbling that can only come from the furthest corners of a molly-fried cerebral cortex.

In case the idea of an entire record of sunsplashed after-party tunes doesnt tickle your fancy, you only need to luxuriate in the ethereal, Pet Shop Boys-esque keybpoard riff of "In Memory Capsule" to pick up on the variety of moods on display here.

As electronic music of the 2010s goes, Free Your Mind is a curious anachronism. It's sandwiched between 2 very distinct eras of dance music: the juddering, 1-ton bass drops of mid-00s French house and dubstep (Justice, SebastiAn, Daft Punk), and the ruthlessly gentrified, one-size-fits-all world of EDM and 80s-fetishizing synthwave (The Midnight, FM-84)that dominated the mid-10s . And although you'd speak of Cut Copy in the same breath as other synth/electropop acts of the time (Frankmusik, Zoot Woman, Annie), there is something about this record that feels bigger: a statement of intent, but also a swan song for a particular era.

It's like the boys from A Night At the Roxbury finally grew up and got jobs, but before surrendering to the grind of normality, they cut a record to honour their influences and threw one last party to toast the vibe and optimism of the club nights of their youth, before the memories faded.

This is the kind of record you appreciate more if you come across it at a certain point in your life. There will be celebratory records like this again, but I won't be able to relate to it the same way.