The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Oscillations Aug Stone , July 31st, 2014 10:30

Cosines have found the magic formula that indie pop has been dreaming of – a winning combination of Pulp and Belle & Sebastian, seasoned with swathes of Stereolab. Refreshingly offering none of the dreaded "twee" associated with that genre, Cosines have a big sense of melody they're not afraid to both use and play with, the same going for their sonic palette of guitars and spacey synths. Oscillations, so the press release goes, "charts the ups and downs, the instability of relationships, misguided hook-ups and subsequent break-ups". But, as evidenced by videos for pre-album singles 'Hey Sailor Boy!' and 'Commuter Love', they've a good sense of fun about it all.

The opening trio of tunes – 'Out Of The Fire', 'Nothing More Than A Feeling' and 'Walking Away' – perfectly encapsulate what the band is all about. Pulsing riffs, bubbly cosmic synths, and singer Alice Hubley's straightforwardness to the addressed boy of the lyrics are nonetheless messages most melodic. Cosines know what a chorus should do and they lift you right up there. 'Walking Away' starts to hint at the 60s influence which will pop up later in the record; 16th note hi-hats propel us through the big held chords evoking the moodier side of yé-yé. 'Pop-In-Court' is a great little instrumental (for the most part) – picture Stereolab covering Pulp. Multi-timbred oscillating synths trade cool lead lines and jumping staccato vibes soon join in the fun. Alice's voice comes in for the final forty seconds, a great vocal part too. Six confident lines dismissing any dissention in the ranks.

The fuzzed-out hypnotic stomp of 'Binary Primary' most fully betrays the love of Space- and Krautrock that you just know Cosines all feel. Just when you think it might be getting a bit too 'It's A Rainy Day Sunshine Girl' repetitive, the riffs expands and the middle eight is a great spacey freak-out – slow turbulence, squeaks and swells. And coming out of it there's a fucking great loooooooooooooooong synth chord, a Moog Opus 3, held from then on out. It sits unobtrusively on a shelf of its own in the background but you can tell it has the heart of a juggernaut.

A strong record so far but the highlights that really make it come at the end. 'Stalemate' is a lovely, murky male/female duet. Guitarist Simon Nelson takes the lead vocal with Hubley joining him and also expertly providing answering backing vocals, such a small addition giving much depth to the tail end of the verses. The chorus chords not quite a surprise but very pleasurable nonetheless. The instruments are both big and restrained, their dirty natures sitting comfortably with one another. Aside from the continuing wonderful synth leads, an SH-101 here, this song could quite easily have been released in the early-mid 90s. In a good way. 'Runaway' features a great pre-chorus. 'Misguide Me' is pop perfection. The pace itself is impressive – the guitar bangs out the chords but doesn't bang out the chords, a lovely synth lead strolls brisk but unhurried throughout, and the gorgeous chorus is both completely relaxed and full-on. Closer 'Our Ghosts' opens with that Phil Spector beat and undulating organ chords. A not-too-regretful tale of lost love whose scene spans multiple Halloweens, more beautiful than haunting. And once the words that need to be said have been so, a delicate tremolo'd guitar begins to pick out a fragile melody with those sumptuous ethereal synths soon joining in, graciously allowing space for all in a sonic enclosure they could easily dominate.