Cosmos – Jar Of Jam, Ton Of Bricks (Happy Jack)

When I first heard that Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices) was teaming up with Richard Davies (Moles, Cardinal) as Cosmos I figured it would sound something like Pollard’s recent solo albums, but with more focused material and perhaps some lush instrumentation. Unfortunately my expectations were way off base. The band, made up of Davies, David Minehan (The Neighborhoods) and Malcolm Travis (Sugar, Human Sexual Response), do the material a criminal disservice with mostly acoustic-based arrangements that don’t play to the strength of Pollard’s voice or his ability to write quirky everyman anthems. The four songs Davies sings are even worse, with his Aussie-accented croak and weak songwriting reaching a real ugly low on “Early Chills, Early Crow”. The only songs you’ll want to hear more than once are “For The Whiz Kid” and “Westward Ho”, which are typically strong Pollard rockers. Cosmos may have been promising on paper, but the end-product is more half-baked than anything Pollard’s put out in recent years, which is really saying something.