Dream Harder, the debut album from psych./dance/punk collective Hello Cosmos is somehow both retro and fresh.

Dream Harder is the debut album from Hello Cosmos, released at the end of January. Hello Cosmos describe themselves as a punk/psych/dance creative collective, and the album certainly features a mix of music, but mostly it reminded me of the heavier indie rock that was prominent in the mid-2000s.

The album has an energetic drive, and the vocals are mixed ‘into’ the music which gives the final result a Wall of Sound-feel. I can see people singing along to it on nights out (once we’re able to do that again), and there’s plenty to relate to on the album, including my favourite line “if culture is your friend you’ve got no enemies” from the title track ‘Dream Harder’.

Apart from philosophic observations, ‘Dream Harder’ is also a stand-out track, so much so that it’s gone straight into my favourites folder. Droning vocals, sometimes even drowning in the music. I can’t decide if the lyrics are uplifting or melancholy, but I certainly enjoy the ambivalence – and there’s a cow bell – who doesn’t enjoy a cow bell? I can hear the psychedelic dance references in the track (with a punk attitude?). It’s somehow both retro and fresh, or, to borrow a line from ‘Frequency Fields’, “it feels brand new, but you know we’ve been here before” … and you never step into the same river twice…?

The album opener, ‘FUSE’, is another highlight encompassing that drive and mix of a little bit of everything. I always think someone’s planned things well when the opening track is able to tell you if you’re going to like the album or not, and ‘FUSE’ is one of those tracks. The theme of the track seems to be introspective and reflective with a heavy rhythm section. I bet it would go down well in a sun-soaked festival (… once we’re able to do that again), especially with lyrics alluding to a drunken kiss.

Overall, I enjoyed the album, but I think I preferred the tracks mixed into a playlist rather than one after the other – they seemed to pack a bigger punch that way. I’m not convinced I’d feel the same way if I was listening to the vinyl, though, but streaming and listening to LPs are very different things and I would always say buy the vinyl. The album has collaboration between musicians and music-makers, there’s experimentation, there’s 8bit blips, so buy the vinyl.

4/5 stars