Album Review | Cosmonaut – Pickle Darling
Written by Sam Dunlay on 4 June 2021
Ōtautahi sweetheart Pickle Darling (Lukas Mayo) releases the new album Cosmonaut. Coming in at nine songs, ‘Cosmonaut’ is a collection of introspective and charming songs.
Listening to ‘Cosmonaut’ feels like walking through the snowy streets of New York City in the late afternoon after I’ve just been dumped. I digress that’s never actually happened to me, but I’ve always had a vivid imagination. ‘Cosmonaut’ evokes a warm sense of nostalgia. Whether it’s Mayo’s off-kilter soft-spoken vocal delivery, the touchingly honest lyrics, or the warm and minimalist instrumentation, something about this album gives me the fuzzies. Pickle Darling’s hushed delivery is endearing and makes me feel like I’ve found a friend to confide in.
Across ‘Cosmonaut’, Pickle Darling is up-front and honest. Emotions and ideas are conveyed sincerely and without gloss. It’s a refreshing approach, and more importantly, feels genuine.
The opening track ‘Achieve Lift!’ sees Pickle Darling with their best foot forward and starts the album on an incredibly high note. Pickle Darling isn’t afraid to switch up an idea mid-song, often rapidly transitioning between instrumentation. This can be a little jarring at first, but it helps add to the album’s galactic idea with each song feeling like an exploration mission from start to finish. ‘Boundless My Heart’ is one of my highlights of the album and really encapsulates the essence of ‘Cosmonaut’.
‘Cosmonaut’ does a great job in blending acoustic elements with more digital sounding production. This helps stay true to the nostalgic vibe Mayo has created while giving the songs a sense of wonder and imagination. We can see this in the song ‘Blushing’. Pickle Darling goes from an acoustic ballad of lost love into an electronic-centric croon coupled with heavily auto-tuned vocals.
‘Cosmonaut’ comfortably nestles itself into the genre of ‘Bedroom Pop’, but it does enough to be distinct from other projects in the genre. ‘Cosmonaut’ flows incredibly well. Across the album, there are often breaks in the vocals, such as the opening minute in ‘Gently Crashes’, where the production is given centre stage. Ideas and narratives build upon each other from one song to the next.
Following the release of the album, Pickle Darling is embarking on a nationwide tour with their band. The twelve date escapade is Pickle Darlings first headline tour with a full band and sees them bringing along the talented Serena Close (Mousey) and Cameron Finlay. I’m incredibly interested to see how the live show will be approached. I’m expecting a warm intimate affair and I’m sure fans of Pickle Darling will have the opportunity to sing along to every word.
Often when listening to an album I don’t feel personally connected to an artist, whether it’s the glitz and glam of commercial music, dis-ingenious songwriting or production that seems tailored towards slotting nicely on a top 40 chart. On ‘Cosmonaut’ I really feel like I’m sharing a connection with Mayo. The songwriting is incredibly introspective and the album is full of whimsical one-liners that couldn’t possibly be delivered by anyone else. Everything about this album just feels honest.
‘Cosmonaut’ is a fantastic release from Pickle Darling. It further builds upon their fantastic discography and is a project that I’ll be returning to often.
You can listen to ‘Cosmonaut’ below.