Album Audit is a weekly Interns feature, recapping and reviewing the album releases of the week with a cheeky score out of five.
Cub Sport – BATS
Album Of The Week
This is Brisbane band Cub Sport‘s second album but in many ways it feels like their true debut. Even before news broke of band members Tim Nelson and Sam Netterfield’s relationship and following engagement, O Lord felt like their true arrival. It was a brave, yearning anthem opened by an acapella vocal and carried by their most honest lyrics to date. That sense of liberation translates through their entire album and makes it one of the strongest local records of the year.
“I don’t even know what I want out of life,” Nelson sings on opener Chasin’ making it clear that no matter your situation, this a record for anyone in their 20s who is figuring shit out, for lack of a better phrase. Sound wise, it’s a pop record with an indie heart, driven by catchy melodies and organic production, the kind you’d imagine Dev Hynes having a great time with. The title track plods along over a warm, pulsating beat, Crush takes us to the late night with a neon-lit instrumental and Temporarily is the most upbeat dance record they’ve ever done. There may be some real lyrical weight on BATS but it’s a very moveable record whether that be fist-pumping or grinding.
One of the greatest things about BATS is that it doesn’t come from this higher place of wisdom. It makes real-time realisations about relationships, self-worth and youth. Let U B sees Nelson sing, “I wanna set you free, but I just can’t let you be,” over elongated, slow-moving beats while Look After Me contemplates, “why stay around and put up with me?” BATS is a constant battle between accepting a good relationship (Crush) and doubting it (Solo III). The album, however, concludes on the most content point with the dizzying, day dream that is Banyo Blue. It suggests there’s peace in living in the moment.
At no point does BATS pretend it knows the answer to navigating a relationship in your ’20s but it’s so vivid in its portrayal of it that it’s surely going to comfort many others. From the music to the lyrics, it’s an album that tackles things honestly and earnestly. There are few bands in this country who are as good a lyricists as Cub Sport are right now while still delivering a sonic backing that’s endearing and entertaining. BATS is a personal and artistic triumph. 4
BATS is out this Friday.
Cut Copy – Haiku From Zero
On their fifth album, Cut Copy could’ve easily played into the nostalgia that’s surrounding circa 2008 Aussie electronica. They’ve proved themselves to be a great band and the legacy they’ve created is already excellent plus being ahead of the curve in the electronic genre is an increasingly hard task. It probably would have been an enjoyable album but the band haven’t opted for the comfortable option.
Instead, Haiku From Zero is the most experimental, testing record they’ve ever made, ditching the sunny, house revival of previous album Free Your Mind. Over nine tracks, Cut Copy take you on a journey of organic sounds combined with underground beats. It’s dizzying, hypnotic, melodic and danceable without being accessible immediately. Opener Standing In The Middle Of A Field may trick you into thinking this a straightforward dance record but the next track Counting Down proves there’s something deeper and more hypnotic to this album.
The organic, analogue sound of this album makes it more similar to their first two albums. Airborne could have sat on their debut album Bright Like Neon Love while the most catchy cut Black Rainbows would’ve been happy on In Ghost Colours. That’s not to say they haven’t grown since then though. Sonically Haiku From Zero is more ambitious. You only have to listen to the circling climax of final song Tied To The Weather to realise that. It’s like they’ve gone back to basics and rebuilt their sound from there with more sounds and texture than ever before. Tracks like the funk-inspired Living Upside Down may sound minimal but it’s full of little nuggets of sound that keep the ears exploring.
Thematically, the album explores information overload in the digital age. Frontman Dan Whitford told NPR there’s “a weird, random beauty in it” which is what comes across sonically on the record too. It’s busy with detail but there’s a striking clarity that runs through all the songs at that’s ultimately what keeps it euphoric which has always been Cut Copy’s finest mode. 4
Haiku From Zero is out this Friday but you can listen to it in advance here.
Hundred Waters – Communicating
Hundred Waters‘ 2014 record The Moon Rang Like A Bell was an unlikely success. The album was a gorgeous, left-centred project in its own right but one remix in particular by Skrillex featuring Chance The Rapper showed the band’s songs had the capability to be even larger. On their follow-up Communicating they haven’t gone as large as that but they’ve expanded their soundscapes, remaining experimental but going even more electronic.
This year’s Currency EP bridged the gap between the two records and Communicating begins with the only track plucked from that record, the glorious Particle. From there, things get far more experimental but no less crystalline. Wave To Anchor pulsates with optimism, Blanket Me climbs to a stirring climax and Parade waltzes around a beautiful piano line. There are so many organic moments but things do get more interesting the more electronic they go. Fireflight‘s gentle electronic moments give it more texture and Fingers damning bass takes the album to its darkest place.
At times they could benefit from more of this electronic experimentalism with tracks like At Home & In My Head descending too far into show tune territory. That’s a small critcism though because even that song, for all its instrumental drama, is stirring and earnest. Hundred Waters have a really genuine, clear outlook on the world and even at their most abstract they cut right to the heart. If they wanted too, they probably could’ve gone for huge collabs on Communicating but they kept it internal and it needed to be. It’s to personally attached to let anyone else dilute the message. 4