Album: Hello Cosmos – Dream Harder
- Credit: Supplied
Hello Cosmos are anchored by Ben Robinson who, along with being the band’s singer, songwriter and bassist, is also the founder of the bluedot and Kendal Calling festivals.
His three allies in the band include Lanterns On The Lake member Angela Chan (vocals, synths and viola), but given his background it’s unsurprising that this debut record boasts more than 20 collaborators, and is supplemented with an album visualiser incorporating animation and augmented reality, and a separate, full remix album.
The Manchester-based creative collective, all clad in Apollo mission boiler suits and cyber-kinetic goggles for their videos and live shows, wield giant ladles in a melting pot of sonic influences while Robinson drives forward a vision of a better, brighter future in urgent spoken word – a kind of performance poetry landing somewhere between Art Brut’s Eddie Argos and The Streets’ Mike Skinner.
Written as state-of-the-nation diatribes, Robinson urges us to seize control of our own mental health and wealth, flipping the use of technology to benefit ourselves rather than the corporations.
Run For President incites listeners to shake democracies from their delusional fearfulness and isolationism, daring to dream of a utopian alternative that happens to be plentiful in gnarly guitar and adrenaline-fuelled rhythm changes.
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But Dream Harder is a deceptively lean listen – in amongst the plentiful squeals of hard-edged, post-punk guitars and punchy drums is a fistful of carefully-arranged electronica and backing vocals that add compelling facets to the songs.
The result? Gauzy, Madchester vocals orbit thundering drums and buzz-saw guitar (the heavy-psych soup of Frequency Fields); piano tinkles offset the march of Raise The Dawn towards its euphoric, rabble-rousing peak; tribal hand drums, myriad synth motifs and full-blast female backing vocals imprint an early-‘90s rave vibe on Let Love Be The Island Upon Which We Stand, a hugely danceable album highlight.
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The mix of euphoric indie rock and turbo-charged psych in the title track (“When culture is your friend, you have no enemies”) and swaggering, elastic guitar riff on Fuse further prove the band knows its way round a tune. When they take their foot off the gas, they sound altogether different, Step Out Of The Shadows revealing Robinson’s endearing, wobbly vocal matched to mellifluous, dappled electronica and prominent drums.
Fusing art and activism is rarely this successful, and Hello Cosmos should be proud of a record fizzing with energy, momentum and their own identity.