Yellow Ostrich’s Cosmos Takes Off

Yellow Ostrich’s Cosmos builds its dreamy swells and punchy leads into something out of this world. The whole album thrums with a kinetic energy that helps to parse Yellow Ostrich from the armies of hazy shoegaze bands. Cosmos (which, rumor has it, takes its name from the Carl Sagan show of the same title—awesome) has a life beneath all the layers of effects and reverb. Whereas most contemporaries lean more on the “post-” side of post-punk, Yellow Ostrich reminds the world that the other half of the label is, in fact, “punk.”

The track that is most emblematic of this aspect is “Any Wonder.” Its distorted guitar jags its way over a smooth, tone-absent bass line and steady kick/snare drumbeat. These moments of almost effect-less instruments expose the emotional energy behind the song. “Any Wonder” grooves in this moment building layers while the vocals strain over it all. After a slight chorus and bridge, the song takes off as the guitar loops its initial groove and drops a howling lead over an increasingly cymbal-heavy drumbeat.

Cosmos does its best when it balances the energy of its almost-raw guitars and over-effected stamp of shoegaze. There’s something powerful about combining the wall-of-sound of reverb-heavy everything and the immediacy of present guitar and drum work. Lucky for us, Yellow Ostrich seems comfortable to occupy both of these worlds with an ease that verges on virtuosity. Perhaps, their use of loops helps them to be both immediate and ethereal simultaneously. In any case, whatever they’re doing seems to be working, since these are some of my favorite songs of the past couple years.

And on that note, my favorite track of the album is “Neon Fists”—a flash-fire of a track that starts with a humming only to burst into a drum-driven romp through the speaker’s insecurities. The melody to the hook stays stuck in your head with its barrage of pleading questions and desperation. Underneath the lyrics, a swirling bass line fuzzes the low-end of the song while a minimalistic lead sparkles in the gaps. Just when the song reaches its climax, the next song starts, leaving its listener wanting more.

Cosmos is one of those albums that dazzles with its near perfection. Part dreamy soundscapes, part guitar-driven mayhem, and part energetic shoegaze, Cosmos almost demands a live listen. KEXP and fan footage of live shows seem to agree that Yellow Ostrich puts on a great live show, and on July 2nd at The Riot Room they will be playing songs from Cosmos and other albums with The Antlers. It will be a night full aural fireworks—enough to rival the actual fireworks of The Fourth a couple days later.

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