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Cosmopaark – and I can’t breathe enough

todayJanuary 18, 2023 152 3

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The Euro shoegaze scene has been slowly becoming dominant in my listening habits. In particular France has been featuring big. The latest band to drop into my inbox with their musical delights are the Bordeaux-based trio, Cosmopaark. The name is a contraction of cosmonaut and a nod to Gus Van Sant’s movie Paranoid Park, a film which has a nineties aesthetic. The nineties are a big touchpoint for the band and is evident on their stellar debut single ‘Mr Big Yellow Sun’. You can also pick out shades of Whirr and Nothing in that early track. Well, one million streams on Spotify later and the band are ready to release their debut album, and I can’t breathe enough, into the wider world.

The band, Clément Pelo (vocals/guitar), Baptiste Sauvion (drums) and Simon Mehalleb (bass/synth), have this to say about the album: “There are autumn afternoons, when the sun gives way to silence, when it is easy to drown in our own thoughts and let our anxieties overwhelm us. We can’t breathe anymore. This is the atmosphere that envelops us in and I can’t breathe enough. In this highly anticipated debut album, Cosmopaark tackles anxiety and depression with tenderness and compassion. At times ethereal and blissful, and at times dark and foreboding, yet always cohesive, the sound of and I can’t breathe enough leads us into an emotional labyrinth, stuck between a feeling of hope and despair.”

Sounds right up my street! Let’s hit play and see what they have in store for us.

The album opens on the mid paced ‘Concrete Plans’. After a deceptively chilled intro they hit us with their wall of sound guitars. These only grow in intensity leading to an incredibly satisfying final section where both bass and guitar try to outdo each other. Considering there’s only three of them, Cosmopaark make a big noise!

‘Haunted House’ follows delivering a more polished sound. If it wasn’t for the full-on distortion of the guitars this could sit happily in The Cardigans catalogue. Superb pop sensibilities and a killer chorus deliver a superb listening experience.

 

We move into an eerie and ethereal realm next with ‘Suffocating’. The guitars create a claustrophobic atmosphere for the song to exist in. It’s only in the chorus we feel some relief when the song opens up and soars heavenward. This is sublime on a lot of levels. Great use of guitar tone to evoke a mood and also great use of dynamics to switch up that mood and drive the song in a different direction.

‘Far’ has that breathy and dense atmosphere that latter Whirr songs gave shape to. This song is built for stadiums with a sea of fans holding their lighters aloft. For all the density of the track, it’s also incredibly fragile-sounding, lending it a vivid beauty.

The slow burn of ‘Sorry’ follows. Overlapping vocal lines wash like waves as the guitars gain intensity and purpose. There’s something hypnotic about this song, something almost circular in its structure.  The nineties aesthetic is strong and frankly, Kevin Shields would kill for this number.

‘Can’t Wait’ bursts on to the speakers. A superb choice as single number two from the album it’s bound to win them a lot of new followers. That riff. It’s monumental and utterly devastates when it comes in. Not to mention that killer drum fill. It’s the perfect shoegaze single for me and my album highlight!

 

‘Big Boy’ is the most expansive song on the album. Opening with an almost ambient tone setting movement before blossoming into the vocals. From here there’s a really gritty guitar sound reminiscent of the bowed guitar sound pioneered by The Creation. Dynamically, this song has it all. The hushed lows, silent false stops, the crescendos and layered sound that delivers throughout. I particularly enjoyed how the song almost comes full circle with the hushed closing section.

We are introduced to another flavour with the almost stuttered intro to ‘Backseat’. This is the kind of slacker pop I love, reminiscent of Gardener or Scott and Charlene’s Wedding. It feels like it’s a one take recording, warts ‘n’ all. That said, it takes a real confident and assured swagger as we enter the final minute. Loved that!

‘Not Fixed’ has that late night ambience. The verses are light and airy but when we hit the chorus things take an off-kilter turn knocking the listener off their feet. This song I would love to hear live. I can imagine that section being really powerful.

All too soon we reach the final track. ‘Try’ combines some math rock styling with shoegaze. The closing minute of this track is nothing short of epic. Towering guitars explode from the speakers knocking you sideways. Man, that’s how you close an album.

One phrase returns to my mind each time I listen to this album, wall of sound. These three musicians have somehow created a monumental tsunami of crushing guitars, pounding drums and commanding bass. Each song utilises their skills to the max in such different ways. The upshot of which is truly accomplished debut that stands shoulder to shoulder with their heroes and influences.

 and I can’t breathe enough is out January 20th, 2023 on Howlin’ Banana Records and Flippin’ Freaks Records. It’ll be available on crystal clear or transparent blue/green vinyl.

You can follow Cosmopaark on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Bandcamp.

 

Written by: Mark Anderson

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