fri 18/09/2020

CD: Cosmo Jarvis - Is The World Strange Or Am I Strange? | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Cosmo Jarvis - Is The World Strange Or Am I Strange?

CD: Cosmo Jarvis - Is The World Strange Or Am I Strange?

Unlikely West Country troubadour is, once again, stylistically untameable

Cosmo Jarvis ponders the eternal verities in a shrubbery

Cosmo Jarvis’s welter of ideas is sometimes too much for him. He explodes in multiple directions at once, ebullient, madcap, raucous, goofy, the very antithesis of cool (hence a 1/10 score for this in NME). He simply cannot rein it in, thus beautiful melodic orchestration fights it out with sea shanty stomping, dodgy, heartfelt rapping, rugby club choruses and Jarvis’s inability to be serious for very long.

Cosmo Jarvis’s welter of ideas is sometimes too much for him. He explodes in multiple directions at once, ebullient, madcap, raucous, goofy, the very antithesis of cool (hence a 1/10 score for this in NME). He simply cannot rein it in, thus beautiful melodic orchestration fights it out with sea shanty stomping, dodgy, heartfelt rapping, rugby club choruses and Jarvis’s inability to be serious for very long. Nothing, however, can disguise the fact that there’s raw talent here, discovering itself.

The Devonshire 22-year-old’s second album is demented fun. His first was a blink-and-you-missed-it double on Wall of Sound which was even less focused (worth checking, though, especially for the storming “Mummy’s Been Drinking”). The new one’s jammed with ukulele-fuelled hoedowns, but they keep escaping off into extended instrumental epics, replete with West Country MCing. His most famous song, “Gay Pirates”, boosted earlier this year by Stephen Fry Tweeting, is a case in point. It’s hard to know whether to love it or laugh at it - or with it. It’s totally preposterous, a folk-punk plea of howled high seas gay love that’s jubilantly affecting. Much of Jarvis’s work has a similarly zany tone and it occasionally loses its way in amateur Vaudeville antics, especially when he gets too shouty and boisterous but, boy, does he have an ear for a tune.

When he’s melancholy, Jarvis is especially likeable. It’s as if his brashness masks inner demons that can only be kept in check with offbeat humour. The title track is delightful, a lighter-waving oddball ballad about not fitting in. “Girl In The French Film” similarly longs for life to be idyllic but punctures the mood with throwaway lines, and “Let Me Out Of My Head” is equally poignant. Like him or not, you won’t hear anything else that sounds like this. Is the World Strange or am I Strange? is sometimes ridiculous and uneven but it’s also an eccentric treat.

Watch the video for "Gay Pirates"

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