[7 September 2011]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
If there’s a heaven, and if John Hughes is up there still making movies, the earth-bound dance pop group Kites with Lights – a one-man band that is current Athens, Georgia resident Jonah Cordy –would be an ideal candidate to score Hughes’ ethereal soundtracks. Cordy’s first full-length album, Cosmonauts, is a clear throwback to the airy, dream-like sound explored by ‘80s synth pop entities such as New Order. Cordy’s voice even sounds smoothly baritone, just like Bernard Sumner’s. Obviously cashing in with indie culture’s infatuation with chillwave, Cosmonauts is an assured, infectious stab at cotton-candy-sweet, keyboard-led dreamscapes.
Cosmonauts is a short album – being just a tick over 27 minutes as a whole – and, as such, feels more like an extended play, which until now had been Kites with Lights primary mode of delivery along with singles. Cosmonauts doesn’t have the unity that a full album would afford, and the final song, “Balanced on Air”, doesn’t end seem like an album closer. The whole thing ends as though Cordy just slammed into a brick wall ideas-wise, unsure of where to go next. However, there’s not a duff track to be found on the record, starting with the atmospheric title track, to the vapor-trail propelled “Strange” to the Madchester-scene inspired “It’s True”, to even the spaciousness of final track “Balanced on Air”. While Cosmonauts isn’t really special as it revels a little too much in its retro-inspired sound, the record is a functional and pragmatic alternative to the synth-pop bands of yesteryear for those who just can’t get enough of that long gone genre of music.