If 2007 was France's year then 2008 already looks like it belongs to the Australians. With a good album from Muscles already plus a forthcoming one from Van She, Modular are rapidly looking like the new Ed Banger.
One of Modular's best loved then, Cut Copy are back with their sophmore effort. Where Bright Like Neon Love was all pop hooks, crackle and sheen however, In Ghost Colours is immediately more considered:
Bright Like Neon Love had moments of introspection - the superb 'Zap Zap', with a delicate "This heart is breaking" refrain, for example. The difference here is that these make up the main emotional currency of the album and, quite simply, they are combined with a more layered, sophisticated sound. In Ghost Colours features co-production of Tim Goldsworthy and it shows - this year seems destined to see Goldsworthy and Erol Alkan continually challenge each other to see who can better who.
So the vocals on 'Out There On The Ice' are backed by a fairly typical Cut Copy bassline, but this is in itself enveloped in shimmering touches of synths, snatches of samples and the odd subtle use of acid. Once it melts away into lead single 'Lights and Magic' with its hook-laden chorus it all combines to create something that sounds far more mature. Whilst it references older material it sounds unmistakeably contempory.
Just as this year's other best albums, Hercules and Love Affair's self-titled debut and Mystery Jets' Twenty One, it's the subtle touches that elevate it to greatness. The live drums on 'Unforgettable Season' for example, the fuzzy guitars that open 'So Haunted' before the chorus blows them away with its swirling synths and gently picked melodies, the sax that breaks through the 90s house of 'Hearts On Fire'.
2008 is already shaping up to be a vintage year for music and In Ghost Colours could just be the best of the best. As 'Strangers In The Wind floats away it becomes clear what makes this album so great: it sounds like waking up from a great dream - it's a shame it has to end but you're glad it happened. From Kratwerk to New Order, In Ghost Colours sounds like every great electro-pop record of the past thirty years.