The Cosmic Rough Riders really are a strange band - on the one hand, their music is obviously radio-friendly pop, and their influences are incredibly apparent. But then on the other hand, the songs have an undeniably catchy sound that doesn't even challenge your music-snobbery when enjoying it. Basically, the Cosmic Rough Riders seem to have struck a nice balance with Too Close to See Far by making jangly, 60s-esque pop still sound reasonably modern.
The opening track, "Justify the Rain" is easily one of the strongest songs on the disc. While the lyrics in general are slightly lacking, the refrain of "We've been waiting so long for Summertime/To justify the rain" manages to capture the emotions of the song - plus the exquisite Beach Boys/Byrds type harmonies make the chorus and really assist the album throughout. The next highlight comes in the song "Sunrise", which almost has a Jayhawks cross Wallflowers vibe to it. The song has an almost cynical quality (while still wrapped up in pretty harmonies and jangly guitars) which offers a somewhat welcome respite from the overall sound of the disc. "Kill the Time" is a song that I could easily imagine having heavy radio rotation, which doesn't negate the quality of the music; it just shows how listenable this music is. The last song on the album, "Smile" is a pretty ballad laced with a healthy dose of psychedelia, although the song is slightly over-produced, the harmonies again make the song.
The main problem with "Too Close to See Far" is Stephen Fleming's voice. Stephen Fleming actually took over singing duties from original singer, Daniel Wylie (who left to pursue a solo career) in 2002, and it is obvious that he was not the superior candidate for lead singer of the Cosmic Rough Riders. While his voice is not necessarily bad, it just doesn't have anything that would make it stand out, or be able to distinguish between the different songs on the album. It really is a shame, because the potential is there; the music is great, the harmonies are amazing - but it just really needs a really personable lead singer to propel the potential into a world class band.
With all that being said, this album is still good and definitely worth a listen, as it is a decent mix of some great songs and a few sound-a-like tunes. While it could easily be improved with a new lead singer, there are still strong enough hooks and good enough singles that would almost guarantee some success on mainstream radio.