Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Cosmonauts' theatrical rock is ready for the big time

May 19, 2011

With an EP named “The Disfiguration of Emily Malone” and tunes named “The Rapist of Hemingway Home,” “The Funeral of Allison J. Sherman,” and “The Lovers of Kerosene Lane,” you’d be forgiven if you think at first glance that Cosmonauts is some sort of brutal metal band. Instead, the band creates radio-perfect rock’n’roll that draws on the history of pop music and shares ideas with My Chemical Romance.

First things first: I really enjoy My Chemical Romance, so that’s praise in the previous paragraph. MCR does a great job of creating breakneck tunes that straddle the line between theatrical and over-the-top while crafting immediately memorable melodies. While Cosmonauts may have some room to grow in the “immediate melodies” category, everything else lines up neatly.

The four songs here are 25 minutes long, and the shortest of them is 4:51. The band has no censor, and that’s mostly for the better. Opener “The Rapist of Hemingway Home” is a distorted doo-wop tune, complete with soaring French horn in the non-chord-mashing parts. The title track is an AFI-esque soaring rocker, which fits them quite well.

But it’s in “The Lovers of Kerosene Lane” that the band excels. The nine-minute track has the most gripping melody of the batch, a motif that is repeated with multiple phrases (“Kerosene,” “Loving me,” “Burning me,” etc.). You will have it stuck in your head, don’t worry. It starts off with a punked-out MCR rager, but then drops into a piano waltz before jumping off to other things. Yes, the band has MCR’s love for unusual genres as well.

Cosmonauts’ vocals are high, but not boyishly high. The vocalist strikes a neat analogue to Gerard Way; the tenor tone is not quite as fervent, but tones of condescension and desperation are easily noted as similar.

These songs have a lot of stuff packed into them, and while Cosmonauts does stretch its chaos out over larger palettes than MCR (who usually pack their insanity into four minute chunks), there’s still enough whipsaw changes to make any fan of theatrical rock grin. If Cosmonauts could trim their song lengths a bit, they’d be a shoo-in on radio. This band is ready for the big time.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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