As far as talent goes, Lion Babe boasts it in abundance, but originality remains in short supply on their sophomore album, Cosmic Wind.
Lion Babe Music
29 March 2019
As it "blows" through dust clouds in the depths of space, a cosmic wind prevents a star from forming, a metaphor easily applied to Lion Babe's second album of the same name.
Listening to Cosmic Wind brought me to revisit begin, a record with a bit of filler surrounding some solid tracks. High-energy moments like "On the Rocks" and "Impossible" display Lion Babe at their best - on their toes - while "Hold On" and "Treat Me Like Fire" deliver the untamed side of sensuality. Most importantly, "Got Body", "Wonder Woman", and "Jungle Lady" boasted personality, something their sophomore album sorely lacks.
To be fair, this marks their first release as an independent act, having put out their debut on Interscope. Where begin felt cheeky and slightly daring, Cosmic Wind feels hesitant and stuck as if Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman decided not to build any further upon their debut's foundation. The sentiments and lyrics register as cliche while the instrumentals are pleasant, 4/4 time signatures without much innovation. One of the lead singles "Hit the Ceiling", while a sharp look at a worker's burnout, quite strongly resembles "Treat Me Like Fire" in sound. Overall, Lion Babe's second album offers a plethora of mid-to-low tempo songs with a few upbeat movers interspersed throughout.
"Tell me how you talk/ Show me how you walk," sings Hervey in the opening lines, hardly expressing a unique emotion or rhyme scheme. Only more than halfway through does the title track find some edge with Hervey's rapping, "We frontin' all the costs / So feminine, big boss." The preceding "Western World" and "Into Me" put a bit of pep in the duo's step, the former offering an interesting, funky take on the Pet Shop Boys' biggest single.
Cosmic Wind hits its stride at these higher tempos, where Goodman discovers a groove with enough heat for Hervey to glide. With its woozy synths and muffled beat, "Into Me" gives off just the right amount of dancey and sexy. The dissonance between Hervey's layered singing and speaking in the chorus offers a unique touch as well. A few tracks later, a smooth electric guitar heralds the arrival of "The Wave", easily the album's highlight. Near the album's end comes "Sexy Please", a percussive track that recalls their Disclosure collaboration "Hourglass".
Once "Sexy Please" ends, the rest of the record sort of blends into an indistinct 12-minute finale. "Different Planet", with its minimal, echoed instrumentation, gives the impression of floating through space, a feeling which loses its charm. Meanwhile, the hard-rock riffs that announce "Anyway You Want To" are let down by the track's general aimlessness. Unfortunately, most of the slower songs on this album fail to stand out from each other, or they're just not that good. No one likes honeydew in their fruit salad, and it finds no home on this album either.
That all said, Cosmic Wind still presents an acceptable afternoon listen, something to put on in the background as you lounge around at home with enough uptempo moments to ensure you don't stay lounging too long. Hervey and Goodman, both talented musicians, keep their vocals and beats relatively soft. These qualities allow you to sink into the music without much extra thought about its complexity. In this rare instance, an album's shortcomings actually serve as an asset.