Cosmo & The Cosmonaut's Ultra Mega Album Review
Cosmo & The Cosmonaut – Ultra Mega (Monkey Records) Album Review
What happens when an eight-year-old gets together with his dad to make an album with a message or two for kids and grownups alike? GARY STEEL takes it seriously. Sort of.
Auditioned on TIDAL HIFI and compact disc.
Nigel Braddock is an expat New Zealander based in Berlin. He’s also a musician and label owner. He’s also the father of an eight-year-old son who has employed the services of his dad to make this utterly charming 10-track album as Cosmo & The Cosmonaut.
Novelty is a characteristic that’s sadly undervalued in a music scene that seems to value dreary insincerity more than fun, but novelty is in many ways the essence of popular music history. When you think about where pop music came from and how it came about in its journey through vaudeville, and its appropriation of a pileup of music forms from jazz and blues and folk music to whatever was going at the time… well, it’s no surprise that many of its most memorable songs are broadly in the ‘novelty’ category.
“Novelty is in many ways the essence of popular music”
And Ultra Mega by Cosmo & The Cosmonaut has novelty in spades. Cosmo sings/speaks his lines in a slightly Germanic voice while Nigel’s rudimentary electronics blip and bleep along in the background, evoking that great 1982 Teutonic hit, ‘Da Da Da’ (by Trio). And in fact, that song embodies exactly what’s great about novelty at its best, and how it’s possible to be audacious and surprising and idiosyncratic and somehow meaningful with the simplest means.
Of course, the whole thing would be rather pointless if Cosmo had nothing to rap about, but the boy has attitude and is here to show those bumbling old men who control the world a thing or two.
On the first track, ‘The World Is Burning’, he notes that: “I’ve learned that you’re never too small to make a difference”, and it’s something of an anti-climate change anthem with narrated verses and a pleasingly vocodered chorus.
The other big statement song by Cosmo & The Cosmonaut is ‘Friends Not Food’, a song for vegans everywhere in which he raises the rather relevant question: “Why pat one (animal) and eat the other?”
“The boy has attitude and is here to show the old men who control the world a thing or two”
It’s not all heavy social conscience stuff, and the other vegan-related piece is simply fun. On ‘Ultra Mega Yum Yum’ – with its slamming beats and deep bass – he raps out a lyric that lists all the ultra-mega food he loves, like tofu burgers, vegan hotdogs and peanut butter.
One of the best pieces is ‘I Don’t Wanna Go To School Today’, in which he catalogues all the hassles involved in getting to school and questions whether it’s worth it. Then there’s ‘Maths Is Really Cool’ in which he involves his classmates, and ‘We Are The Dumbheads’, a song that gives itself permission to be really silly by listing out a bunch of fun things to do, like wearing underpants on your head or cleaning your teeth with chocolate.
Cosmo & The Cosmonaut – Summary
It’s a modest record made with modest means, but Cosmo’s words and delivery are perfect and Nigel’s retro electronic backing perfectly complements the words. And it’s a viable alternative to Taylor Swift for the kids.