LiketheAstronaut meditates on life and death on debut EP

It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from local-favorite indie-rockers, Stellar Young. In 2019, they released the third and final installment in a trio of EPs, and in the time that’s passed, the band has done a lot of growing up. Vocalist John Glenn, most notably (for the purposes of this review), has both lost a father and become one.

Now, he’s resurfacing with a new project called LiketheAstronaut (get it?), documenting in particularly vulnerable fashion the fluctuating slate of emotions that accompanies life’s often cruel dichotomy of losing and gaining, of life and death. 

The debut EP, Moments Before…, features five songs with a consistent sonic throughline of electro-pop, something his band started exploring more on the aforementioned set of EPs. Here, the lush, synthesized arrangements are expanded even further, reminiscent of a band like CHVRCHES and even, to some extent, The 1975. This palette suits Glenn’s voice—as inviting as ever—perfectly. He sounds as confident as ever yet, with a new hint of weariness and longing that only comes with the passage of time.

By the end of the EP, you begin to recognize the double meaning behind Glenn’s new pen name. While it is undoubtedly the tongue-in-cheek reference to his birth name that it appears to be, it also symbolizes a feeling that’s spread throughout these songs. With each one, you start to feel a little more like an astronaut yourself, alone on an isolated planet with nothing but your thoughts. Grief will do that to a person. Hell, even love can do that to a person.

Structurally, Glenn and his assembled cast of characters (Kyle Hatch of Stellar Young, Josh Eppard of Coheed and Cambria, and producer/keyboardist Dave Parker) keep things pretty loose. The songs take their time ebbing and flowing like waves of varying degrees; it is probably more apt to call them ‘musical stories’ than ‘songs’. That’s not to say they’re melodically uninteresting – you’ll just find yourself invested in where each lyric leads and what wisdom Glenn is set to impart (or discover himself?) at any given moment.

“I’m not in a state to listen…” Glenn sings on ‘A Part,’ the third track in the sequence. Sure, any comfort in a time of need is appreciated, but sometimes silence is the best medicine. It’s a sentiment I feel we all can relate to. Even on the most joyous of occasions—the birth of a child, for example—we human beings can feel the pull of solitude, of a faraway planet that can offer peace and tranquility like only something unfamiliar possibly could in this day and age. With each listen, Moments Before… reveals something more in the same way that exploring uncharted territory does. That’s largely the point—perhaps exploring these feelings and emotions on record was Glenn’s own way of navigating the unknown. Perhaps he’s still figuring it out. Whatever this foray into solo work is—whether a one-off release or the beginning of a fruitful project—we don’t yet know. What is clear, however, is that Moments Before… is a masterful thing of beauty.

Moments Before… is out today. Pick up a copy on Bandcamp to support the artist directly.

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