This new R&B/funk band take us on a cosmic ride with their debut EP.
Astronauts, a local, all-male five-piece band, could not have released their debut EP, One, at a better time – pop and hip-hop has been making way for more R&B sounds in Singapore. The likes of Sam Rui, Sezairi and Theodora are at the forefront of the wave, and now, Astronauts is joining the ranks.
Formed by Ben Jacob Lee (keyboard and vocals), Benjamin Mah (bass), David Andrew Lee (guitar), Jonathan Tan (guitar) and Eugene Lum (drums), Astronauts had released their debut single “Get Close” in 2017 before working on One, which dropped this May.
The band has been noted for their versatility in mixing R&B, soul and funk with modern pop affections a la Bruno Mars, but it is the fusion of jazz and rock that brings out a “warm groove” to their music. Three of the four songs on the EP (“I’m No Good”, “Kryptonite” and “Kick It”) pair crisp guitar fills with lively horn or sax sections.
While there is an increasing number of R&B acts entering the scene, the Astronauts are setting themselves out to be the quintessential R&B/funk band in Singapore.
While lyrics like “keep me undercover or as a getaway/be your backseat lover by the end of the day” show an a edgy, rebellious side to the band, their music is best described as being breezy and carefree.
From the metallic cracks of the drum in “I’m No Good” (try not snapping your fingers along to this one) to the swirling trumpets in “Kryptonite”, the EP shows that the band’s dynamic instrumentals are powerful in helping them make their mark in Singapore’s R&B scene.
The band channels Continuum era John Mayer in “Do You Wanna”, with Lee’s breathy crooning at its most dramatic. The song is also the EP’s most sensual track (which is saying a lot for an EP all about seduction and attraction). In “Kick It”, the chill-inducing bass along with Michael Jackson-esque qualities in the chorus make it a relatively heavy closing track for the EP.
Catchy repetitions and upbeat energy give the EP a rather universal appeal – no mean feat for an indie band’s debut work.
While there are hints of artistes like James Brown and Michael Jackson in their music, Astronauts is more than just the sum of their musical influence parts. Their eclectic musical styles make them a band to watch.
With time to hone their songwriting and develop the emotional intensity of their music, they will go places.