“I feel like whenever I’m writing songs, I’m always trying to find areas that have tension and that aren’t just exploring something simple like,’I love you, I want you, I need you.’ It’s always trying to be like,’I want you I need you because I have this sick need for validation,’” Alex Mackay of The Cutouts, Brooklyn’s newest 4-piece band, explains to Alt Citizen. Mackay, who is the lyricist and vocalist, is joined by band members Chris Maier, Leo Grossman, and Lisa Hickox, and together they have formed The Cutouts. Think Ariel Pink and Elliott Smith, but add a new spin and a bit more character development and you’ve got The Cutouts. Though they’ve only just released their first EP, Baby Blue Suede, each musician has been honing their craft for a while — and not just in practice. They also have theory and production skills up their sleeves.
But beyond their musical education and practice, The Cutouts bring lyrical intelligence into the fold. If Alex’s introduction didn’t already give it away, there’s a search for something more real within The Cutouts’ pieces. Take “Nina,” for example. Alex describes “Nina” as a suicide hotline aid that calms callers down as she simultaneously explores violent release at a paintball range, delivering cookies, and the like. It’s extremely visceral imagery that’s grounded in a meandering soundscape, a juxtaposition that mirrors the discordant narrative. Again, Alex says it best: “I think that the record was in a lot of ways about dualities and exploring contrasts. I think that was a big lyrical theme in terms of just how people are not always so simple.” And this theme continues throughout the 5-track record, each song revealing that the best and the worst can be wrapped up into one person, place, or thing.
If that wasn’t enough to get you listening, they recorded all of their songs themselves, AND, while their first music video looks professionally shot, the band actually filmed it on an iPhone. Don’t believe it? See for yourself, it’s pretty amazing. Scrappy, smart, and nifty, The Cutouts show us the world as we live it (not just as we want to see it), which is quite innovative in a society that continually tries to filter the bad from the good.