Cut City is a Swedish band that caught our eye with their latest EP Absolutes. Their sound hearkens back to the 80’s, with Interpol and Joy Division closely mirroring their blend of post-punk and new wave. Absolutes EP may only have five tracks but it sounds classic and remains true to the conventions of the era that it was inspired by.
Opening song “Wildfire” starts with rhythmic turbulence, the bass and drums fuels the song’s driving force while the guitars provide a blistering fervor. Cut City’s lyrics are intense and foreboding, capturing the anxiety and unease present during the 80’s post-punk revolution and re-framing it to the perils of our modern world (history really does repeat itself). “Voyeur” follows suit with an enveloping darkness. The song is a call to action with alarming minor chords and a dreadful intensity and tension that comes right before an uprising. “We’re desperate for strangers to come out at night”: The narrator calls out for a midnight brawl to quell the darkness that haunts them.
The next three tracks are lighter, with synth and guitar parts sharing the space . The lyrics remain somber, but the prominence of radiant string melodies and the generous reverb shed a more hopeful light to Cut City’s message. “Untitled Dancers” is filled with these synths that give the song a grandeur and brilliance that contrasts with the narrator’s feelings of inadequacy. The result is a mix of new wave and Brit pop that feels familiar, especially in its cathartic chorus. “Utopia, 1974” one-ups this energy with an audacious stadium rock exultation in its brightest peaks. The imagery presented here is wide and sweeping, almost opposite to the tone of despair and the desperate cycle of failure that’s being expressed by its narrator. As if the singer’s dour emotions are being lifted up to the stratosphere. The EP ends with “Vanities” – a balance of post-punk bite with groovy hooks and rhythms. Cut City maintains a serious tone although Absolutes. Filled with characters searching for a utopia, a world where dreams and hopes are not as easily shattered.
If you’re looking for honest to goodness post-punk for the modern era, Sweden gems Cut City should be a great addition, if not one of the go-to bands on your rotation.