Escapism is an easy thing to aim for with music, but a harder thing to capture. With Dream Harder, Manchester-based band Hello Cosmos shoot for this target with both barrels, and largely succeed. With a fluid mixture of electronic, funk and hard rock, their debut album is a detailed, rip-roaring ode to the freedom and happiness that is managing to escape far too many people.
The opener, ‘Fuse,’ sets the tone for the rest of the album. A funk-injected rock track, the familiarity of some of the riffs are balanced by the freshness and energy of a band clearly trying to do something different. It’s the kind of track you would expect from a group forced to wait in the sidelines by the global pandemic, finally able to emerge with an exciting sound they’ve kept bottled up over the last few months. This is followed by the likes of ‘Tonight Tonight Tonight,’ which can feel as if someone has drowned a Blur single in lavish purple satin.
The 11-song album features over 20 different collaborators. With that in mind, you might be hoping for a more immediate variety from the first few tracks. Once the album settles down however, it becomes ever more eclectic. ‘Frequency Fields’ features layered harmonies that help the track to hit a distinctly different note from those that preceded it, while ‘Step Out of the Shadows’ is a slower, dreamier entry as the album reaches its halfway point. While some of these tracks have a consistent, bubbling energy, others like ‘Run for President’ build up to almost overwhelming climaxes of noise and vocals. Beyond doubt, Hello Cosmos don’t lack inventiveness. The majority of the songs feel distinctive and complementary of one another, fitting together seamlessly into one dynamic collection.
There is layered instrumentation and complexity to Dream Harder that isn’t always obvious, but rarely fails to impress. It has a raggedness, fury and energy that many great bands feature in generous amounts on their first album. It is not aimless either. Rather, it is intended to provide an exciting liberation from a feeling of imprisonment, taking time to appreciate where you are and where you could be going. As it’s put in ‘Renegade Love,’ “we’re here, in the moment. In the wonderful moment.” This optimism and liveliness, depending who you ask, may be misplaced – but it makes for an awesome listen in any case.
Frontman Ben Robinson describes Dream Harder as “a soundtrack to the journey out of lockdown back to the party side of the brain.” It might not sustain such levels of euphoria, but nonetheless the energy and zest for life are present in every chord. This state of mind will stay with the listener for at least a few glorious moments after the album draws to a close.
Dream Harder is released on the 27th November.
Words by James Hanton.
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