“Civil Engineer” by Astronauts

"Civil Engineer" by Astronauts is Northern Transmissions' 'Song of the Day'.

Dan Carney is a London songwriter who releases music under the name Astronauts. He also enjoys spending time with his daughter and his partner, going for long walks, reading, writing, looking out of the nearest window, and making overly ambitious travel plans. He also has a PhD in cognitive psychology, but he hasn’t used that for a while. After the debut Astronauts single “Skydive” Dan toured in Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France, and Switzerland.

In between all of this, Dan found the time to write and record his second full-length, End Codes. It channels the melancholic intensity and rich arrangements first encountered on ‘Hollow Ponds’ into eleven beautiful new songs, while also managing to sound more coherent and focused than its predecessor.

Lyrically, it’s Dan’s trademark intriguing blend of resignation and defiance, all delivered with a world-weary estuary twang which combines the colloquial fragility of Robert Wyatt with the eerie double-tracked smoothness of Elliott Smith. Cuts such as opener ‘Recondition’, ‘Split Screen’, and ‘Breakout’ are propelled along by a familiar sprawling, motoric intensity, simultaneously fraught and uplifting, and just repetitive enough to lodge themselves firmly in your consciousness without becoming labored or tedious.

There’s also the steady, cyclical lead single ‘Civil Engineer’, the folk-pop song yet written about the vagaries of a career in civic planning, and the triumphant Laurel Canyon-via-Romford CSNY-style harmonies of ‘You Can Turn It Off’. Closer ‘Skeleton’, with its defiant drone-gospel coda, triumphant and boisterous over a yawning chasm of electronic sadness, channels the likes of Fugazi, Tortoise, and The War On Drugs, proving that Dan’s horizons extend significantly further than many of his supposed “indie folk” contemporaries.