Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cymbals Eat Guitars - Lenses Alien (2011)

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It’s clear from first glance and listen that Cymbals Eat Guitars follow up to 2009’s Why There Are Mountain is different. Sure it’s the same band and the lead tracks are similarly lengthy but whereas the debut was filled with musically meandering moments, Lenses Alien has a rapid-fire take no prisoners vibe. Joseph D’Agostino punk-y vocals bring to life the novel-esque verbosity into eloquent, sincere turns of phrase. Album opener “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)” with its mammoth 8 minutes serves as the mediator between Why There Are Mountains CEG and Lenses Alien CEG. It’s sprawlingly grandiose but far more direct and gritty than any song on the debut (even its parallel “…And the Hazy Sea”).

Many of Lenses Alien’s strongest tracks are those that we have been introduced to before like “Plainclothes”, “Another Tunguska”, “Definite Darkness”, and “Wavelengths”. That’s not to say that any of the never been released songs aren’t good. In fact “Gary Condit” is an early favorite of mine. It’s that they’ve had the longest time to gestate, for the band to premiere them, get feedback, and change or present in different context. As an album, Lenses Aliens is far stronger than Cymbals’ debut. The band is tighter, fused together from years of playing together and touring. There’s only one moment on the whole album that I feel the band fumbles in any regard: “Shore Lines”. Though it’s full of some rather delightful musical moments (vocal harmonies, numerous tempo switch ups, the lyrics come off a bit contrived. It’s almost too poetic, actually. Fragmented and convoluted, even after multiple listens the song’s point manages to elude me.

On Lenses Alien, Cymbals Eat Guitars are concise and rightfully so. This album sees the band tapping more into the potential they were practically oozing on Mountains. Everything is much more mature: the playing more intense, the songwriting more descriptive and rich. Here’s hoping there’s more to come from Cymbals Eat Guitars if they continue to make music this good.

You can stream the whole album at Spin here.

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