When Daniel Wylie left Glasgow-based Cosmic Rough Riders last March there were many who thought this signalled the death knell for the band. After all, he was the main driving force behind the well received Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine album and was also the lead singer and lyricist to boot.
You can’t keep a good band down though, and after a quick change of personnel, the Cosmics are back with what could well prove to be one of the albums of the year. Too Close To See Far is packed with memorable, heartstring tugging songs that would turn the band into megastars if there was any justice in the world.
With Stephen Fleming now installed as the lead singer, the album is an almost seamless transition from Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine. Some of the songs may lack the maverick touch of Wylie, but it makes for a much more satisfying whole.
Given the Cosmics’ prior association with Poptones (the previous album was released on a one album deal with Alan McGee’s label) it’s no surprise to hear the Teenage Fanclub influence wrote large. In fact songs such as Blind, and especially the fantastic Need To Fly could have come straight from the Fannies’ Grand Prix.
Teenage Fanclub aren’t the only influence here though – Smile possesses the best harmonies you’ll hear this side of a Beach Boys album, while the short Tomorrow May Never Come is as sad and languid as Elliott Smith at his best.
Fleming’s lyrics certainly stand up to Wylie’s work – it would be a soul made of granite who could fail to be moved by the chorus of the regretful Sunrise (“I was only staring at the sunrise when I should have been looking at you/I just needed something to belong to and I should have been longing for you”).
Yet it’s the melodies that really strike a chord here – the chiming guitars of the blissful For A Smile, the aforementioned gorgeousness of Sunrise, the blissful harmonies of Life In Wartime and the standout The Need To Fly are all about as perfect as guitar pop gets.
There will be those who complain that the last thing we need is another bunch of jangly guitar playing Byrds wannabes, but such people should be ignored – this is the best album of its genre since Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque and deserves a place in every serious music lover’s collection.