Since starting out as an icy new wave band with synths, Cut Copy have progressively increased the temperature and size of their albums. Their fifth record, 2017's Haiku from Zero, is their biggest and warmest yet. The Australian quartet have definitely shed the last trappings of the cold-to-the-touch synth pop sound they perfected on 2008's In Ghost Colours, reined in some of the excesses of 2011's Zonoscope, and sidestepped most of the '90s influences that were all over 2013's Free Your Mind to make their most straightforward, easy-to-swallow album yet. Cut Copy employ synths with a light touch, keep the beats driving in a straight line, and don't stray very far from the kind of melodies they've utilized in the past. Almost any song here could have been on a previous album; some of them, like the jaunty "Airborne," would have been highlights. What that means is that this is the first album that hasn't been a surprise, the first that feels like the band is following a template instead of an interesting tangent. None of which is to say that Haiku is somehow bland or less enjoyable in any way. Cut Copy's mastery of their sound means that the album is supremely confident, and the narrow focus they employ means the songs hit like concentrated bursts of sunny, danceable pop. Tracks like the bouncy, guitar-heavy "No Fixed Destination" and the funky "Counting Down" sound like the work of a band whose members know they have everything locked down tight and they aren't afraid to strut a little. The rest of the album, bar one track, is destined to be a dancefloor killer, with propulsive beats, soaring vocals, and shimmering synths. It's an impressive display of craft and energy meeting in the middle and creating something that's indisputably fun, if a little less impressive than previous efforts. It's hard not to miss some of the surprises and experiments that the band dropped into the mix in the past. Only the last track on the record, "Tied to the Weather," takes a break from being cool and cocky and gets a little melancholy. The chopped-up vocals, chilly synth lines that build to a jagged climax, and especially Dan Whitford's wistful singing sound like they were helicoptered in from another album. It's an interesting last blue note for a record that's otherwise made up of sun-splashed sounds and confident swagger. Haiku from Zero may be Cut Copy's most Cut Copy album yet, full of hooky songs and breathlessly danceable songs. The only thing it is missing is inspiration or invention, which also means it is their least successful record yet as well.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra