Album Review: Astronauts – Four Songs EP

London songwriter Dan Carney, aka Astronauts, has been quite busy this year. After his debut single, “Skydive”, hit over 150,000 plays on Soundcloud, he released his debut album Hollow Ponds. There were some left overs from the album so Carney decided to release an EP to tide fans over until he could release more music. I didn’t have time to listen to Hollow Ponds when it came out, but hearing these four songs has me setting aside time to do so.

The EP starts out bright and bubbly with “Only Son”. You wouldn’t guess from the music that it was actually about a horrible ordeal involving Carney fracturing his leg and the hospital stay that resulted from it. The upbeat synths are accompanied by plucky strings and dark guitars which become more and more foreboding as the track goes on. The track is layered beautifully in a way that makes you feel light and claustrophobic all at once.

The second track of the EP is “Lion Tamer”, a track that seems fairly straightforward but is actually has quite a lot musically going on below the surface. The track kicks off with some heavy guitars before being joined with lighter guitars and scampering percussion. Carney mixes some electronic experimental vibes with 60’s folk rock harmonies. The vocals are nice and airy which helps to bring up the heavier beat of the track.

If you told me that “Think On (2003)” was a track from Elliott Smith I might have believed you for the first few listens. It is only when you really listen to Carney’s vocals that you can pick up his accent. The guitars, breezy vocals, and complimentary piano that glide perfectly over the track are a wonderful tribute to Smith while Carney still manages to put his own signature on the track. It’s definitely my favorite track on the short EP and I can’t help but go back to it over and over again.

“Think On (2003)” flows perfectly into the closing instrumental track of the EP, “Death From the Stars”. The track reminds me a lot of Wilco’s “How to Fight Loneliness”. The acoustic guitars and piano float lazily along joined by a clarinet that gives the track a haunting, dreamlike feel. It’s just under a minute and a half long but I can’t help but be drawn into the track and is the perfect companion to “Think On (2003)”.

I spent a good hour or two listen to the Four Songs EP over and over again when I first got it. It has me both wondering why I didn’t listen to Hollow Ponds when it first came out and glad that I waited so that I could have the complete experience with the four songs that didn’t quite make the album.

The Four Songs EP comes out Monday, November 3rd. You can preorder it on iTunes and Amazon.

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