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Music Consumption: Chris Bell
01/24/2002 Chris Bell: I Am the Cosmos

Many, many fellow Big Star fans have recommended that I check this out. I was under the impression that Chris's songs on #1 Record weren't as strong as Alex's, but it appears that they actually co-wrote a fair amount, and it turns out that Chris's contributions to Radio City are among my faves. So what's this one sound like?

Let's get the one nitpick out of the way--some of the lyrics and rhymes are a bit obvious. I don't care, though--with music this beautiful, I'm willing to forgive this. Well, and there's an issue with the headphones I'm using to play this on the PowerBook, also--they're Sonys, so the high end is majorly hyped so as to give the illusion of "clarity." It's actually a shortcut to major ear fatigue on some discs like this one, where the spectrum is full, and there's a lot of high-end information. But back to the music: everything you've heard is true--this is a brilliant slab of power pop, completely satisfying to the Big Star fanboy I've become.

High points:

"I Am the Cosmos": Besides the drama of the tune and how he delivers it, there's this perfect radio-friendly, melodic guitar solo that speaks the language of the heart with pure eloquence. I can't say enough good things about this. The fade of "Better Save Yourself" acts as the ideal release of the song's slowly-built tension. "You and Your Sister" is another perfect single, and appears in a total of three versions on this disc. Sure, the rhymes are predictable in this one, but it is indeed a beautiful tune, somehow more sturdy and more fragile than the perhaps better-known This Mortal Coil cover. "I Don't Know" is another thrilling power pop workout alternating between tasty Byrds-like arpeggios and almost boogie-rock chunky chording. But everything on here is a gem, and more than worth a listen. Worth several listens, in fact. Some of the remaining tunes are stronger than others, but you'll have that. Check it out.