Kosmos (Golden Hour Records)
Reviewed by Libby Webster, Fri., July 14, 2017
Following a four-year gap between albums, Austin quartet KOSL returns with a new name – abbreviating moniker Kingdom of Suicide Lovers – and a record that's leaps and bounds ahead of hazy, lo-fi debut Distant Waves. Bursting with a fuller, off-kilter sound, Kosmos weaves together guitar-driven post-punk, synth-pop, and No Wave influences into a collection that would fit neatly alongside Sonic Youth's Goo. Like the strange desert landscape illustrated in its unsettling LP art, the vinyl unfolds in a dystopian future, told from the point of view of narrators trying to resist. On "Time-Bomb," guitarist Paul Streckfus sings about being taken out by a nameless, nondescript "they" after being too vocal in protest, and on "Fence," the same faceless, oppressive enemy appears. "Phoenix Sunrise," led by ominous guitar lines, paints apocalyptic imagery, and "Nuclear Future" simmers a sinister interlude of tense synths and Streckfus mumbling out spoken word. Even with the inherent hopelessness of KOSL's narratives, the oscillating clamor of punk on Kosmos soldiers forward.