Release Date: Sep 13, 2011
Record label: Fake Four
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Experimental Rock
“There ain’t no magic in materials. Magic’s in our words.” – “Lift the Curse” When it comes to Astronautalis, those lines are at the center of everything he does. The rapper has spent his career putting all his energy into his lyrics, and the music serves to deliver them. Minneapolis-based Charles Andrew Bothwell’s last full album was the incredible, experimental Pomegranate, and while that record was expansive and full of divergent genres and characters, This Is Our Science condenses the process into a tight 40 minutes of rhythm and revelations.
His raspy voice evokes the image of eyeballs rolling back in the head. His delivery is all blood-and-thunder. Though Astronautalis is typically aggressive, his voice can sound reserved on lighter tunes like “Secrets on Our Lips” and “Midday Moon”, but even then it’s emotionally extravagant. Hip-hop is the map on the journey of This Is Our Science, but it detours to rock and pop without losing direction.
Astronautalis may not have the controversy that surrounds Eminem or the swagger of Jay-Z, but for the better part of a decade, he has consistently crafted some of the smartest hip-hop music in the underground—and his fourth album, This Is Our Science, proves the MC is equally as adept at improvisational freestyles as he is at crafting hooks that will stay lodged in your lobes indefinitely. In that spirit, "Thomas Jefferson" has a gritty Tom Waits vibe if Waits could effortlessly rhyme (and enunciate), and "Midday Moon" is a downbeat anthem that eschews extraneous instrumentation to further focus on his skillful syncopation, while "Secrets On Our Lips" has more in common musically with Modest Mouse than it does Mos Def. At this point in his career, Astronautalis clearly isn't afraid to take chances, whether that means unapologetically including a pop-friendly tune ("Contrails," which features Tegan And Sara's Tegan Quin) or a piano ballad ("Measure The Globe") for good measure.