On this second album from Pickle Darling, the alias of Lukas Mayo, the Christchurch singer-songwriter contrasts a curiosity for life’s tiniest, most precious details with the vast backdrop of deep space.
From the off, ‘Cosmonaut’ is a wholesome adventure to enjoy getting lost in. “I trust you will speak kindly of me / I hope you sell me well” they sing over Achieve Lift!’s slow build, while on the lilting Blushing they croon of heartbreak and self-hatred. The tone isn’t self-pitying, mind – far from it. Twinkly synths and jittery percussion make for an almost chiptune sound with the kind of awe-inspiring uplift of a video game soundtrack.
Tales of celestial romance are woven throughout. On the rich, sweet Gently Crashes a monologuing robot voice asks, “Did you know that the moon is in love with a tiny asteroid? It passes every 150 years and is slightly smaller every time.” Wholesome, eh?
What’s most endearing about ‘Cosmonaut’ is its inability to sit still. Like a child learning about the solar system for the first time, there’s a feeling of unabashed playfulness in the way its soft sounds blip in and out, and Mayo’s vocal twists and warps to create the illusion of a whole choir of different voices. From one song to another it’s hard to tell exactly which direction the brilliant melodies will swing in next, but in truth ‘Cosmonaut’ is such a joyful listen that you won’t really mind.