Spaceships Are Cool - 5-Track EP
Record Label: Independent
Release Date: January 27, 2009
I bet you haven’t heard of Spaceships Are Cool. It’s okay, I hadn’t either, until I was sent this CD. It’s not surprising that they haven’t jumped onto the scene; they’re not meant for it. Spaceships Are Cool, a quartet, hail from Nottingham in England. Rob Maddison is the brain behind this project. He writes, records, and produces all tracks. He also is the man behind the vocals, guitars, bass, drums, programming, glockenspiel, omnichord, and melodica (I had to Google those last three). Ben James is on piano and synth, Rob Yunioshi on saw, stylophone and snyth, and Helen Maltby plays the viola and the cello. No, not a typical band lineup. No, not a typical band.
It starts with “Let Things Go”. Right away, hearing this song, I though of the iPhone, and one of its many commercials. Quickly a pattern is found. Rob Maddison was an electronica musician before he started SAC, and it’s very evident. Seemingly every song opens with a little snippet of electronically driven pop. Funny thing is that it doesn’t really seem to fit the music, yet he always makes it work with the song itself. Spaceships Are Cool’s use of a plethora of instruments is evident right off the bat. Unfortunately, as this CD progresses, their use of all the instruments they seem to be able to get their hands on is distracting. This EP makes me think more about the individual use of instruments than any other ever has. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it gets in the way of actually enjoying the music that Spaceships Are Cool has to offer. Unfortunately, the start of “Let Things Go” is very weak. To be honest, all of the verses are. But what’s even more puzzling is that the chorus to the very same song is excellent. And it starts a very strange pattern with the entire EP. Either the verses are not very good, or the chorus isn’t. “Strawberry Knickers” is more laidback than “Let Things Go”. It was a nice change of pace, one that was really needed, even after one song. “The Fond Farewell” was the first song that really had me bobbing my head, but it really faded in the chorus. “Gingerbread Houses” is probably overall one of their better songs, but it stretches on a little long. Finally comes “Sooner or Later”. It’s my favorite off of the EP. The guitar in the beginning goes incredibly well with Maddison’s voice, and it crescendos into their best use of instruments on the EP.
The vocals on this EP are very fitting. Maddison’s voice is high, soothing, and chill. Unfortunately, his voice rarely seems to waver, and it can get sort of boring. Because of this, focusing on the vocals can make this EP sound like the same five tracks repeated. My ultimate fantasy for this band would be to have them get a second, female vocalist. Musicianship is tricky. The drums are somewhat boring, but besides that, how does one judge the play of an omnichord, when you’ve never actually heard one before? Lyrics are a high point. They fit the music itself almost perfectly. Production is homemade sounding, simply because it is homemade; Maddison records it all himself. Though the production itself isn’t top notch, the homemade aspect fits the CD.
Maddison does nearly everything himself. He does the writing, and he does the production. Sadly, when one person is in control of nearly everything, he tends to not listen to creative input as much. Your ideas on paper, and in your head, don’t translate to people. This may be the case here. They need to shake it up. I'm not asking them to change their sound, I'm asking them to expand it. Spaceships are Cool has tons of potential, if they use it right.