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Cosmo Jarvis Is The World Strange or Am I Strange? Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

A rare example of an artist following his instincts and his heart.

Mischa Pearlman 2011

With a name like Cosmo Jarvis, most people would probably assume the answer to the singer’s second album’s question is that it’s the 22-year-old who’s odd. That may be, but this record illustrates just how weird the world is, too – holding a mirror up to its idiosyncrasies and peculiarities with a tongue firmly in its cheek. Gay Pirates is a humorous but affecting tale of forbidden love that sounds like Mumford & Sons singing a sea shanty. It’s a story about gay pirates, obviously, which unfolds through amusing lyrical dexterity full of both humour and pathos (the pirates in question are ultimately made to walk the plank). While it acts as sweet song about the power of love, it also serves to highlight the all-too prevalent prejudices that still permeate our supposedly modern and enlightened society.

Elsewhere, My Day is a visceral explosion of riot punk that works well, while the annoyingly whimsical Dave’s House is just too much of a pastiche of itself and hard to take seriously as a result. But that’s sort of the point – this album is an experiment in sound and style, as the title-track’s slow-motion rap and the 10-minute erratic freak-out of What’s Wrong With Betty? illustrate. To some extent it works – offering a quirky but incisive look at this country and the world at large – but at times its incohesiveness does jar.

Nevertheless, it’s a rare example of an artist following his instinct(s) and his heart, and making the album he wants to with little regard for its commercial viability. At the same time, there are enough catchy songs here to enable some unit-shifting radio play. The problem might be a case of misrepresentation – because there’s nothing here that really epitomises, in a single track, the eclectic nature of these 11 songs. Strange or otherwise, this is an intriguing but confused curate’s egg of an album that will probably delight as many people as it repels. But then, we can’t all like the same thing, can we?

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