Album Review: Cosmic Crooner – The Perks Of Being A Hypocrite
After the hostile reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, musicians have typically released music of a bouncier and more playful nature in recent months and The Perks Of Being A Hypocrite – despite the inauspicious title – is no exception. Musically, Cosmic Crooner’s debut tips its hat at the psychedelic records of the 1970s, coloured by a vocal style that flits somewhere between Bolan and Lennon. Cosmic Crooner doesn’t entirely abandon cynicism – he simply tempers his views with a series of jaunty hooks as heard on the charmingly Beatlesque ‘Spoiler Alert’.
It also indicates that there’s a rocker somewhere behind the vocals, but on this occasion, he keeps it pop centred, making it the type of family-oriented album Alex Turner hopes he could write. The album isn’t entirely reliant on the vocals, as the drum-heavy ‘Popsicle Place’ is only too keen to emulate; “I feel like a spy sometimes,” he sings, echoing the type of frustration felt by Bond stalwarts Dalton and Craig. There are also lovely ballads like ‘Goodbye Hollywood’ and ‘Goosebumps On A Tuesday Night’, which celebrates his love of cinema, and judging by recent interviews, he might follow fellow musician Lol Creme (10cc) into the realm of cinema: “I love movies, and I love to make them! But the thing I like most about cinema — and music — is that it can take you somewhere you haven’t been before, but it somehow still feels very familiar. A scene in a film can give you a feeling just like a song’s melody can, so I think these two mediums work very well together.”
While the best numbers echo the artists of the 1970s, the production design – lushly coated in instrumentation – tips its hat back at the songs Phil Spector wrote from his desk.The slow-waltz of ‘Bolero’ sounds like the type of tune Spector might have written for Ronnie Spector, while ‘Girlfriend’ tips the clocks forwards to Ram-era McCartney (yes, the song shares a title with a tune from the London Town album; we’ll send your cheque on a stamped undressed elephant.)
The album isn’t perfect: ‘Reflexopolis’ – all disembodied sighs and choppy drum patterns – is a little too derivative, and whatever point ‘Tema Di Filippo’ is trying to make is lost in the sea of strings and choir-like harmonies. Even with such moments of ramshackled confusion, the album never loses sight of its central figure, and there’s no denying the fact that Cosmic Crooner really can belt them out with the best of ’em.
Take his vocal on ‘Deep Down In Jazz’: Cosmic Crooner starts from the corner of the album, embodying an edge that snowballs into something grander, even hitting notes of operatic fusion on the chorus. What the song is about is irrelevant in the ground of such powerful singing, and the track -confident as it is refined – ends with a selection of finely tuned musical workouts. The song’s bright, sunny surface adds to the atmosphere, allowing the singer the chance to welcome listeners to the stages where he has more than earned his presence. Brilliant.