May 10th, 2012 | Album reviews

If You Wanna Die Then I Wanna Die
Burger Records

Cosmonauts are growing so fast, musically, that you can see that growth song by song, even within the context of a single album! On If You Wanna Die Then I Wanna Die, it’s hard to believe that the band on Side A is even the same bunch of fellows as the band on Side B. Let’s be brutally honest: Side A of this record is just okay. It has the kind of c’est-la-vie punk, with very faint but fun nods to 80s-style 60s nostalgia, that could consign a band forever to be the standby opening act on Burger Records bills. But flip the album over, and like wow, baby! Suddenly you’re in the paisley underground of Robespierre’s velvet basement. “California Dreamin’,” a clever glockenspiel-infused non-cover, relishes in the kind of cool 80s minimalism championed by Spacemen 3 and Confusion Is Sex era Sonic Youth, as menacing in its deadpan as one of Buffalo Bill’s lotion rhymes. That menace keeps right up through the rest of the tracks, everything from hard psych rockers to broody Swell Maps territory, culminating in the kind of Lebanese-scale solos only a guitarist who’s played some surf songs in his past can pull off. Not sure why the album accelerates towards awesome so much on one side—maybe the band was hedging its bets, playing to both old fans and new. But if they can pull together a dozen more wonders like this, their next album will be, ahem (coff coff), “out of this world.”

-D. M. Collins