Cymbals Eat Guitars - LOSE - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Cymbals Eat Guitars - LOSE

by Pete Super Rating:9 Release Date:2014-08-25

Cymbals Eat Guitars spent their first two records turning out a musical style that was a patchwork of influence, and not in a bad way. It's been well noted the similarities between their sound, and the usual suspects of late 1980s and early 1990s indie/alt-rock bands - particularly Superchunk, considering the uncanny vocal similarities between singer Joseph D'Agostino and Superchunk's Mac MacCaughan, although D'Agostino has a bit more hardcore-punk bite to his delivery, especially on LOSE.

Cymbals Eat Guitars have cultivated an interesting amalgam of a style. Its framework is that Superchunk-esque hybrid of punk and power-pop, but there's all kinds of edges sticking out. When I first heard 2011's Lenses Alien, I kept thinking about the long forgotten classics Yank Crime by Drive Like Jehu and Hissing Prigs in Static Couture by Brainiac. It was the in way Cymbals Eat Guitars' songs follow their own internal logic, the strange dynamic builds and detours - who needs a fucking chorus really? It's that place where progressive-rock meets math-punk and art/experimental-rock. An exciting place for a modern rock band to dwell.

One of the strange things about Lenses Alien was that Cymbals Eat Guitars choose to put their longest and most dynamically interesting song up-front as the lead track. Each song after felt like they were teasing the point where it would take off into the cosmos, but it never came. It made the record feel a little disjointed. LOSE has more consistency in sequencing and inter-song dynamics. That's not to say these songs all sound the same by any means.

On first track, 'Jackson', there's an epic slow-burn build and when the heroic lead guitar kicks in at the end, it's damn near an arena-rock-sized power-ballad. There is an honest-to-God ballad in 'Child Bride' showing off the lightest touch exercised by Cymbals Eat Guitars thus far.

LOSE finds Cymbals Eat Guitars in a sonic arena of undeniably higher fidelity; it also seems to find D'Agostino channeling more aggressive vitriol into his vocal delivery. The vocals generally split the difference between snotty punk snarl and helium wail, but on 'XR', D'Agostino is positively seething, nearly barking out the lyrics over a double-time shuffle. The vocal delivery reminds me of Jesse Michaels from the long defunct Operation Ivy. (How's that for an out-of-left-field reference?) The allusions to country-punk on 'XR' are aided by a harmonica which blares through the mix.

On the flip-side there's 'Laramie' all delivered in a sultry falsetto. The arrangement in the verses is ringing keys with a boatload of sustain and a slashed staccato guitar-riff under a well of reverb. It's broken up by choruses consisting of sustained mutitracked cooing and descending guitars before it erupts into a racing resolution that is pretty much a completely different song. It all twists up into wah-guitar riffing, tremolo heavy keys, and assorted chirps and buzzing before being warped into phased-out non-existence.

Final track '2 Hip Soul' rolls out with an exacting slowcore malevolence worthy of vintage Red House Painters. It explodes into gnarled walls of brittle, white-nose riffs and lulls back to the stilted serenity of the verses before rising into a crescendo that barely has time to build before it falls out, leaving a piano to sullenly plink out the opening chord progression.

Cymbals Eat Guitars stay true to their established formula while expanding it immensely. There are so many interesting variations on genre tropes on this record it's impossible to detail them all. The band are able to seamlessly jump from space-rock to cooing pop to math-y prog - it's really a marvel.

LOSE demands repeat listens to take it all in. It's a treasure trove of inspired leaps, visceral aggression, pop hooks, and psychedelia – and that's not even half the story.

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