Title: Age Of Fracture
Record Label: Tough Love
London four piece CYMBALS, coined the title of their debut record, Age Of Fracture from one of Daniel T. Rodgers books. The Princeton academic’s body of work addresses the disintegration of thoughts towards the end of the last century and how collective significances have become ambiguous. Frontman Jack Cleverly has gone on record pondering this point “It hit me that I often feel paralysed by the feeling that everything is ‘too complicated’, and that many people I know feel that paralysis. I realised that this way of thinking can be traced through these songs.” Interestingly enough, the notion of complication and it’s direct opposite meaning ripples through Age Of Fracture. This is a record that on the surface appears very linear, as if the chiming synths and whimsical beats are almost non-existent. However, when challenged to delve deeper into the album’s soft underbelly, you’ll discover multiple layers of sound that intermingle, reshape and disperse. The direct response to Cleverly’s ‘too complicated’ quote can be tracked back to a lyric from ‘You Are’, a bubbling synth schlep that has the vocalist declaring “I want to go where we cannot be found”.
Through all the proclamations of life’s complicated twists and turns, CYMBALS debut LP is something of an enigma. It’s a record of fidgeting, languid proportions buoyed by tumbling 80’s synths and quirky indie disco rhythms with a vocalist whose dulcet tones are drenched by the band’s lo-fi ways. On a first listen, the album has very few redeeming features, it can begin and end without much of an impression being made. It’s akin to wading through a series of half decent demos. After a number of spins, the playful nature of Age Of Fracture pops up like a nervous meerkat. Interestingly enough, the moments that hook you in are reminiscent of other bands and artists. ‘Empty Space’ is Talking Heads’ awkward indie-dance punk with a burbling synth line wrapped around a repetitive beat. If you can picture Tom Vek joining Metronomy and what the end result would be, ‘Like An Animal’ would be their collaborative spawn. Angular rhythms and a geek indie shuffle is what this ditty is all about. The godfathers of gloom, Joy Division and The Cure are projected all over ‘Erosions’ elastic wriggles, with a bassline on the verge of being snapped and a sturdy motorik beat. Cleverly invokes Robert Smith but only if the Goth thing has been dropped for something a lot more vibrant. These aren’t direct rip offs but when digesting these tracks, there isn’t enough gumption within CYMBALS craft to make you look past these comparisons.
In this age of pastiche and nothing being quite original anymore, Age Of Fracture doesn’t contain enough of its own imaginative thoughts to grasp your attention. A pleasant but forgettable listen.
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams