Origins is our recurring new music feature that lets an artist or band dive into some of the inspirations behind their latest track.
When working on his solo debut, 2016’s Turns, Cut Copy bassist Ben Browning looked to the catalogs of music legends like Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. For his follow-up, titled Even Though, he’s digging deeper into pop music’s storied history, finding sparks of inspiration from Brian Wilson and English rock act 10cc in addition to Macca.
He showcased this sound on the album’s early singles, the title track and “Sunshine Baby”. It’s also on full display on “D.A.D.”, his latest offering. Though a prismatic and dreamlike tune — a friend fondly described it as “future McCartney” — it sees Browning reflecting from something of a somber state: “I was always thoughtless/ But no one ever taught us/ And now I know it’s pointless/ This honesty, honestly.”
Browning’s voice glides over the colorful oscillation of synths, capturing just the right amount of what he calls Wings-like “sweet” nostalgia. The Australian producer and songwriter also throws listeners a bit of a “jazz wonkiness” curveball in the second half of the track — a surprising breakdown that unexpectedly works in terms of highlighting the contrasts in his arrangements. Browning told Consequence of Sound that the track, like most of Even Though, is an “indulgence” of Wilson’s material, but here are my two cents: You can’t go wrong when studying the genius of The Beach Boys.
Take a listen to “D.A.D.” below. Even Though arrives June 22nd through Yellow Year Records.
Speaking further to CoS, Browning offered additional behind-the-scenes thoughts on how “D.A.D.” came together, citing releases from Laid Back, Jerry Paper, and Daft Punk.
Laid Back — “Roger”:
I picked up the Laid Back album with Sunshine Reggae and White Horse on it and got kinda obsessed with these Danish guys who made pretty avant pop in the early 80s. This jam has an amazing chord progression, and nails that ‘space pop’ vibe that other bands like Telex and Space Art did as well. I tried to establish a similar feeling in the synth sound and chord progression at the beginning of my tune.
Jerry Paper — “Real Now Love”:
I discovered Jerry Paper around the time I was recording my album and couldn’t stop listening to him for a while. He’s kinda underground, but his songs are always on the HBO show ‘High Maintenance’ and I feel like he’s gonna get super popular soon. There’s a certain amount of jazz wonkiness to his style, and I feel like I was going for a bit of that in the second half of the breakdown.
Wings — “Tomorrow”:
Someone described my song to me as ‘future mccartney.’ Sounds about right. Probably some of the lyrics in my song are direct McCartney cliches. And while they mean something to me they might seem throw away too. Which I’m fine with to be honest. He does his sweet nostalgic thing in this one and the chords and melody hit me just right.
Daft Punk — “Nightvision”:
The middle section of my tune is something that I’m really proud of terms of layering voices and creating complex chords with voice. Which instantly reminds me of 10CC’s ‘I’m not in Love’ which has influenced so many producers, especially the French wave of artists of the early 2000s. No one ripped it off better than Daft Punk though.
Brian Wilson — “Melt Away”:
So much of this new album was an indulgence for me into the music my dad played when I was like 8 or 9 years old. I remember him playing this solo Brian Wilson album a lot. I had no idea who Brian Wilson was or that he anything to do with the beach boys (who I didn’t really know about then except for the song ‘I Get Around’). I was intoxicated by the melancholic beauty of this song as a kid. There’s a real late 80’s midi sheen to the production but the song is beautiful and wouldn’t be out of place on any beach boys album…good or bad.