Artist: Cymbals Eat Guitars
Record Label: Barsuk Records
If you’re reading this review there’s no doubt you’re a music obsessive – notably you’ve landed on Northern Transmissions, excellent choice we must say! Another certainty – if a slightly downbeat one – is you’ll have experienced some kind of loss in your life, be it a beloved family pet, a friend or a loved one, life is a cycle and every beginning has an end. The third LP by NYC outfit Cymbals Eat Guitars binds together two key composite ingredients, these being the redemptive power of music and bereavement. Aptly, CEG’s new album carries the solitary label of ‘LOSE’. Seven years ago frontman Joseph D’Agostino lost close friend and musical peer, Benjamin High and this album is an unofficial testimony to an old friend but also the feeling that music can change the world, it can cure all evil and it’s pretty fucking great.
‘LOSE’ fidgets with an ADHD twitch of urgency, CEG evidently are a collective that are teeming with ideas – part alt-rock, part psyche-wigout, part Irish wake, part punk and almost everything else around the album’s orbit, there’s enough influence here to proclaim the New Yorkers are musical magpies. This is a band gorging at the buffet of aural inspiration, their bellies are full and they’ve got food smeared all over their chops. A punky tendency is attributed to ‘Warning’ and ‘XR’s wired jaunt. Celestial bliss shimmers throughout ‘Place Names’ albeit a slightly raucous take on serenity. Then there’s the pair down moments; ‘Child Bride’ is a stark affair, recounting a daughter having the “living shit” beat out of her. This is played out to the sound of delicate drum machine thuds, a stripped back acoustic lament and calming shroud of strings. Album closer and sophisticated shuffler “2 Hip Soul’ drapes a moody persona across the album’s parting shot.
When CEG shoot for epic, the results are good but aren’t always great; album centre piece ‘Laramie’ is a discography’s worth of ideas crammed into eight minutes. A-sci-fi-waltz-cum-mad-wigout-cum-ethereal-trip-fest if there ever was one. However, ‘Jackson’, the record’s opening gambit, appears to be trying too hard and comes across as too overwrought. Miami Vice and 80’s undertones lay heavy on ‘Chambers’ making for the rare occasion where ‘LOSE’ sounds more pastiche than melting pot of inspiration.
Word and Thoughts of Adam Williams