Review: Cosmo Jarvis – Think Bigger
Published on August 6th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Cosmo Jarvis is 22. This is his third album, and his first feature film The Naughty Room is about to hit cinemas worldwide. Repeat: Cosmo Jarvis is 22. Feel sick? You probably shouldn’t listen to Think Bigger, then.
Rocksucker is hoping to peg him down for an interview soon, but then he not only saw this coming but read our mind if the line “I’ll probably ask you shit you’ve probably heard a million times” from opener “Love This” is anything to go by. A smart, clap-along pop shuffle, “Love This” proceeds to proceeds to ruminate (“If I believe in heaven I deny myself a death / Dying keeps me conscious of the way I waste my breath”) and goof off (“Tony Soprano is a teacher I respect / He’s always been there when I take a nasty step”) in a way that brings to mind a more original and incalculably wittier Jamie T, with added fiddle.
We then have “Train Downtown”, which starts off all harmony-topped, AOR jangle-pop over a steadily clip-clopping, then steps up into classic rock riffing, then gives way to a shivering staccato string section; and, in doing so, manages to conceal about its person a lyric about getting a license to have a barbecue. No matter how clean Jarvis’s pop sound is at face value, it’s very well thought through and conceivably broad of appeal: in other words, ‘nice’ enough to chart and clever enough to tickle the fancy of us nerds. (Apologies to any non-nerds who might be reading. You’re probably on the wrong site, by the way.)
“I could brighten up your days / I could kill the old me / I’d do almost anything / Just tell me who to be” vows “Tell Me Who to Be”, a charmingly sweet ‘n’ silly little love song dressed as breezy country-soul, while “Lacie” – arguably one of the finest songs ever written about relying on an external hard drive – sits well alongside the present reams of neo-folk with its plinky/twinkly banjo but bests the majority of it by steering clear of excessive tweeness.
“Sunshine” is a minor-key yet playful Hoedown complete with Southern accent and a gleefully contrary lyric (“I’m so sick of the sunshine / Baby, ’cause it burns my skin / Tell me when the storm comes in”), and the bluesy “Good Citizen” is just as deceptive with its portrayal of, well, a pretty bad citizen. Ace Beatles-y harmonies on the titular refrain, too.
A cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” strikes as a little unnecessary but is immediately redeemed by “Hopeless Bay”‘s sublime and otherworldly union of strings and humming, so unexpected in the wake of the initial McCartney-esque finger-picking. The chiming acoustics and driving beat of “Whatever” fare well as fodder for some more reflective lyricism (“Only life can be this tough / That’s why I can never get enough”), but it’s the weakest link of a quietly remarkable four-track run, including “Hopeless Bay”, to end the album.
“Girl From My Village” belies its almost cheery-sounding melody with a deeply affecting lyric about the death of a girl from his village; although he cannot claim to have really known her, their proximity in terms of age and location sparks thoughts of how it could have been him, what she could have become and whether he could have helped her. Quite why Jarvis decided that harmonising recorders would be a fitting accompaniment to all of this we couldn’t tell you, but it works in a bitter-sweet, world-keeps-on-turning sort of way.
As gentle and warming a curtain-closer as you could possibly wish for, this ukulele-based title track is alongside “Hopeless Bay” this album’s stand-out track. “When it’s good enough life leaves you even quicker / That’s why you gotta think big / And then you gotta think bigger” sings Jarvis in a hushed sort-of-falsetto as the beautifully understated but sophisticatedly written music unravels swoonsomely around him, even taking in a string arrangement on its way out.
“I could build a pyramid / So could every other kid / But a sandcastle’s good enough”. In the case of this subtle little gem, he’s spot on. A perfect end to another tremendously promising outing from this sickeningly gifted Devon lad.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Think Bigger is out now on 25th Frame. For more information please visit cosmojarvis.com