Yellow Ostrich: Cosmos (Barsuk/Southbound)

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Yellow Ostrich: You Are the Stars
Yellow Ostrich: Cosmos (Barsuk/Southbound)

Although taking its title from Carl Sagan's 80s television series about the universe, the cosmological and astral references are musically few on this electronica-cum-alt.rock album by the Brooklyn four-piece around songwriter Alex Schaaf.

The music beyond the electrobeats and sonic washes most often sounds grounded and even gritty, but it is in Schaaf's lyrics and an edgy ambience (Shades, the most atmospheric My Moons) where you hear the sense of wonderment (the ballad You are the Stars and the folksy Don't Be Afraid) and mystery (In the Dark, Any Wonder).

Yellow Ostrich could have taken this into obvious directions (dreamy and weightless Eno, the rolling tropes of Can) but have, in Schaaf's words, tried to inject amazement into daily life in a big city. That's a harder call.

It's not always successful but the joyous questioning of How Do You Do It and the gentle enticement of Things Are Fallin' which stretches and bends into economic prog-rock deliver most successfully.

This isn't an essential album but its ambition, marriage of romanticism and realism, and some repeat-play songs make you curious about this band which has released a number of albums and EPs since 2009.

Interesting, but it requires time and repeat plays before it hooks.

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