Cut Copy elevate the cycle of rock and dance

Heights & music
By LUKE O'NEIL  |  April 4, 2011

Cut Copy main
ROCK STEADY BEAT “I think intrinsically the iconic things that we do, dance songwriting or whatever, will show anyway,” says Ben Browning (second from right).

Talking about rock and dance music as if they were entirely separate entities is weird, because in the early years, they were essentially the same thing. In fact, dancing is one of the only two real reasons for music to exist; the other is to let everyone know you're better than they are. Music is also for making babies. Okay, so three things.

When rock and roll was invented, it would have been ridiculous not to dance to it — kids weren't stroking their chin whiskers and pontificating over Chuck Berry lyrics. But in the intervening decades, popular music has fragmented into a thousand shards of specificity, to the point where we're now approaching a 1:1 ratio of genre to listener. That means people who don't want to dance — most likely serious-minded indie pussies too cool to sweat — don't have to. Occasionally, a movement or a band comes along that makes it harder to resist. New wave and post-punk in the '80s, Madchester and big break-beat DJs in the '90s, and the DFA scene in the 2000s all worked their hypnotic beat charms on the kids. But though the marriage of indie and dance scenes is a recurring motif, it tends to come in short-lived bursts. Trends in music are cyclical, of course, so as soon as everyone starts dancing, it's time for the next shift of bands to punch in to work and take us in the opposite direction. That's known as the musical-spite corollary, a famous concept I just invented.

And the back-and-forth may be over for this cycle, because if there's one thing music fans don't want to do anymore this decade, it's stand in a room and watch people play instruments. They want to dance. Thank the Australian electro-pop/whatever outfit Cut Copy.

Of course, Cut Copy didn't invent this shit; one could argue that we're still riding on the residual high of the DFA/LCD Soundsystem movement and give credit for kicking indie kids in the ass to James Murphy and company. But there's a little problem with feeding LCD too much of the shine pie. Although they've put out a handful of memorable tracks over the years, I can't shake the feeling that they were a result of a novelty goof track that we somehow took seriously. You know how your mother always used to say that if you kept making stupid faces, you were gonna get stuck that way? That's LCD in a nutshell. Daft Punk deserve props, sure, but their pivotal run predates the current moment. Old news. Ladytron were great for fashion bloggers in training to try clothes on in front of the mirror, and Crystal Castles are massive, but even at their best, they seem more like a concept than a band. Plus, they're cunts. MGMT? Two hot tracks and a follow-up of turds disqualifies them. Next?

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