Some remix combos just should not work at all--they look terrible on paper, catch in your mouth like vom, etc.--and I would slot "Death Cab for Cutie + Cut Copy" squarely in that category. On top billing, you have what are probably the NW's second-biggest band going right now (after Pearl Jam), but who, for all their popularity, have been dishing out increasingly weak sauce over the past several albums. (Where you chart the band's high-water mark is a matter of personal preference, of course, but I could skip everything that's come after the first track on Transatlanticism.) Down the marquee, you've got Cut Copy, a beachy Australian synth-pop outfit whose greatest album is undoubtedly 2008's In Ghost Colours, and whose release this year, Zonoscope, feels at its best like a lazy retread of that album and at its worst like a lazy retread of Duran Duran's Night Versions. Together, you'd expect, what, like the Postal Service with MOAR COWBELL maybe? But damn if it doesn't work, giving us what might be the first Gibbard-voiced cut I'd actually play in a club (sorry, John Tejada remix of "Such Great Heights" and Superpitcher take on Dntel's "The Dream of Evan and Chan").
It actually shouldn't be that surprising.
Even if it's a weaker album, Zonoscope, and especially the band's big, anthemic live show (like at this year's Pitchfork Music Festival), prove that Cut Copy can handily turn out fun, functional dance tracks (whether or not they really stick with you as "songs"). And Death Cab, whatever you think of their later work, at least provide top-quality parts for remixing, with their long-honed combination of Gibbard's clean voice and Chris Walla's fastidious producing. And so, Cut Copy remake "Doors Unlocked and Open"--the original of which rode a somewhat rote, if unexpected for Death Cab, krautrock pulse into a chord change that suspiciously resembles a Fujiya & Miyagi song--into an easy, open-air Ibizian club track. It sounds, duh, like a Cut Copy track with Gibbard singing over it, his falsetto and moaning and mumble actually sounding pretty lively over that rhythm.