This is a review of "Untitled" recorded by Cosmonaut. The review was written by Richard Garnett in 2001.
Think early New Order or Joy Division, think Arab Strap, remember the Blue Aeroplanes and take a pinch of Echoboy for the backing tracks and you will be somewhere near the mark for describing Cosmonaut.
I liked this CD a lot and although it took me a good few listens and a while to wrestle with lead vocalist Julien's style it eventually grew on me. There are a couple of rough edges to Cosmonauts style but maybe it will be better if these are left unpolished. At times the vocals can be a little wearing and maybe less would be more, but the style, which has apparently been compared to 'Jarvis Cocker and Mark E Smith', is unusual and at times strangely engaging. I would actually argue that the vocals are not course enough to be given these sort of comparisons and what let's Cosmonaut down is actually the vocal production, which if it were done with a professional producer and perhaps with a couple of effects on it to break up the style it would heighten the experience dramatically. What could be added to Cosmonaut is a sung backing vocal to compliment the spoken word and provide the depth that is just missing in some of the songs.
On the backing tracks, it is definitely Cosmonaut's strong point and I was really impressed with the programming and the loops being used. Track 1 - 'Wearing those clothes' is suitably upbeat enough to act as an opener and the Cure guitar lines work really well. The industrial beats of 'Trailer Trash' are less impressive and where Cosmonaut are at their weakest yet as an album track or b-side there are no complaints. Final track - 'The last few hours of summer' is excellent and is the real gem of this 3-song collection. The sweeping backing track has you on a late summers evening with the dying embers of a fire and big box of cheeba, lovely moments when going back to work seems a lifetime away.
How Cosmonaut carry this off live will be interesting to see and I fear that if not too careful it might suffer, but I have every hope for these boys to go on to bigger things and it is refreshing to hear something other than just the usual guitar, bass, drums dirge of a local scene. The next release needs better production and a couple of new ideas thrown into surprise us but Cosmonaut are mostly there already.