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Space Mountain - "Supermundane" | Album Review

by Timothy Michalik (@timothybleached)

Connecting the mundanities of everyday life is at the core of most singer/songwriters. Self discovery, heartbreak, humiliation - circumstances which are typically private and intimate - are difficult to put into words, let alone into song. But their comes a time, whether you're the artist writing it or the listener experiencing it, where the dots of life's discrepancies all seem to connect. On Cole Kinsler's third full length album under the alias Space Mountain, Supermundane, the Brighton, Massachusetts native puts these unexplainable factors of life into one simple sentence: "This is a symptom / Of being alive." 

With lyricism that seems awful sure of itself in the wake of confusion, Kinsler's baritone vocals - mixed with these confessional lyrics - is quick to draw some connections to Silver Jews' mastermind David Berman. Not nearly as drunk or pessimistic as Berman, Kinsler's masculine vocal tone clearly resembles that of Berman, but where Berman - and Silver Jews, for that matter - crash and burn into an endless pit of shame and self-loathing, Kinsler tends to find beauty, even when there's seemingly none left. The bulk of Kinsler's discography under Space Mountain is a sporadic mess of half assed lo-fi tunes, but on Supermundane, he gets a grip on his true potential, taking off to somewhere completely uncertain and unique, and unlike his past releases, where he flies, he soars. 

The same deadbeat-attitude eroding with melancholia is still very much present, but with slicker songwriting and precise production, Kinsler makes the album of his career. Long gone are the days of spottish, often incomplete songs. These are fully formed, tediously stylized stories, delivered in an incredibly deadpan tone that is nothing short of brilliant. Kinsler's voice, often maudlin in itself, finds a sliver of tenderness in the world spinning around him. It's not just a big step for Kinsler's songwriting, but for his identity as a songwriter.

Kinsler is no longer a man lost in his own confusion. That confusion can be found in his last two albums, Gargantua and Big Sky, but on Supermundane, he sheds off his hibernation coat for a fully formed album surrounded by instrumental bliss. Each song on Supermundane is a monster of it's own, jerking your levels of emotion from completely miserable and self-reflective to absolute solitude. On "White Light," Kinsler's big-band affair, stuffed with organs and jangly leads, he transports himself to that state of solitude on a wave of melodic acoustic rhythms, while songs like "Big History" leave you feeling awestruck, as his instrumentations are completely self aware and gracious. Elsewhere, "Godhead," with it's stuffy lead guitars and heartbreaking deliveries, is Supermundane's most bummed-out track. 

Supermundane is ultimately an album of human nature. Cole Kinsler surfaces as an artist who is completely aware of his flaws, and while Supermundane may not be a perfect listen, for anybody who is feeling incomplete in a world ridden with madness and monstrous egos, it's an essential one. It's tearjerking structure finds Cole Kinsler a new man, one who is grateful for the beauty around him, rather than the people.