LA-born singer-songwriter Josh Ostrander is an artist who’s been floating on the brink of the mainstream for some time now. After fronting two previous major label alt-rock bands (Laguardia and Eastern Conference Champions) that never amounted to much, Ostrander has finally hit it third time lucky under current moniker Mondo Cozmo.
Don’t be deceived by the rather bland album artwork, as on his debut solo record Ostrander delivers off-kilter pop bursting with colour. An endearing listen with a strikingly eclectic production, clearly the result of Ostrander’s wilderness years spent producing several other artists. ‘Plastic Soul’ dabbles between genres and influences; from the barrel-house piano led self-titled opener that plays out like Rostam producing Springsteen at his most heart-on-sleeve to ‘High’, a track that sees Cozmo attempt his best James Murphy impression over a glitchy art pop backdrop of sequenced drum patterns and dynamic guitar lines.
However, Ostrander’s lyrics are often brazenly simplistic, with the album too often at risk of drifting into cliché. The by-the numbers acoustic pop of ‘Shine’ boasts a tacky chorus of “Let 'em get high, let 'em get stoned, everything will be alright if you let it go”, whilst ‘Thunder’ also strays into bombastic Mumford & Sons territory with its over-sized chorus, predictable breakdown and simplistic drum beat.
It’s safe to say Cozmo is at his best when playing it weird. Something he picks up on later tracks like the infectious ‘11 Acre’ and the euphoric U2-esque ‘Come With Me’. Unfortunately, despite its kaleidoscopic production ‘Plastic Soul’ is too often let down by unremarkable lyricism, nevertheless there’s enough bright flutters to indicate some strong potential from an artist looking to push the boundaries of the three-and-a-half-minute pop song.
Words: Rory Marcham
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