Cymbals Eat Guitars
With a combination of punk and alternative-rock stylings, Staten Island–based band Cymbals Eat Guitars manages to make an indie-rock record that feels both like a homage to the past and a fresh experiment. Their new album “Lose” takes plenty of liberties from late ’90s alt-rock bands like Built to Spill and Guided by Voices, but they incorporate other styles from punk and folk music into each track. In doing so, they manage to evolve as a band over the course of a single album.
The tracks here are extremely dynamic, with steadily contrasting high and low tempos, fluctuating between fast and slow in the span of one song, much like the famed rock band The Pixies. Despite having a punk-sounding voice, vocalist Joe D’Agostino’s vocal style fits in this genre well with the distortion-heavy guitars and mid-tempo drums, his vocals boasting a high range and a smooth snarl in his lyrical delivery.
This album constantly blurs the lines between punk and indie, making each subsequent track a pleasant surprise. Tracks like “Jackson,” “Warning” and “Chambers” show the immediacy of their songwriting and the frantic nature of their playing. There are plenty of slower tracks like “Child Bride” and “2 Hip Soul,” which throw in string arrangements, piano and slower tempos, adding a nice contrast to the fervor of the first few tracks. Almost every track on this album is catchy and infectious. One or two tracks, notably “XR” and “Place Names,” feel out of place because of their place in the album’s tracklist. “XR” is a folky track that comes directly after two hard-hitting rock songs and is then followed up by “Place Names,” a long experimental guitar driven track, though this is only a minor fault in pacing.
According to a Q&A with the band from Stereogum, D’Agostino said “Lose” is heavily influenced by the death of his best friend seven years prior, and he had decided to finally address the death and let out his thoughts on the subject. Though the album is not downtrodden or sad, a sense of grief is present in the music and the emotiveness of D’Agostino.
“Lose” is a solid album and offers up a large amount of replay value. It is refreshing to see an album like this in a year with a lack of good indie-rock output. Ultimately, Cymbals Eat Guitars stands out as a band that knows how to borrow from the past, but still produces material that sounds experimental rather than rehashed.