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CYMBALS

Cymbals Eat Guitars

Pretty Years

Pretty Years, the wildly ambitious fourth LP for Cymbals Eat Guitars, is easily the band’s most sonically enigmatic and most rewarding album yet. Their trademark cacophonic guitar rock and innate propulsion are still abundant, but they’re buttressed by raucous synth and keyboard lines, and an extemporaneous saxophone performance, which enrich when they could easily clutter these songs. The band also worked more quickly and efficiently than they had in the past, facilitated by years on the road in which they’ve played close to a thousand shows, which rendered them a tight, fully-oiled machine in the studio. Opener “Finally” shimmers with complex beauty, leading into the sweet rush of “Have a Heart,” which finds lead singer and guitarist Joseph D’Agostino singing, “I’m so out of sync / And you’re out of sync with me,” which could well be a mantra for the visceral appeal of this superb record. The entire album is rife with electrified, flashbulb moments—“4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)” conveys the madness of life on the road, exhibiting D’Agostino’s uncanny ability to transform minutiae into profundity. This skill is evident in spades on the record’s centerpiece and opus, the disarmingly vulnerable “Dancing Days.” The song also exhibits the contributions of Whipple, and slyly invokes the album’s title in its magisterial chorus, as D’Agostino contritely croons, “Goodbye to my pretty years.” And indeed, Pretty Years is a roller coaster ride, both lyrically and sonically, that encompasses what it’s like to be alive and in the moment. But ultimately, this is an album that keenly captures the magic and loss attendant to living life wide-eyed, and hints that these “pretty years” may portend even prettier ones to come. “On the lead single from this year’s Pretty Years, these young Americans have gone full ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,’ embracing ’70s rock in all its brassy pomp and soulful stomp. When these guys said they wanted to make a more energetic album, they must have meant one you could dance to.

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: Think hazy summer montage : diving off a rope swing into one of the great lakes, people laughing at outdoor parties, throwing frisbees or spraying their mates with a hose whilst washing their car. This is effervescent and upbeat indie-rock, filmic and feel-good. Jangly guitars and open-closed-open snare hits, topped with demi-punk vocals (slightly snarling, filled with youthful growl and vim). Things take a punkier turn on songs like 'Beam', where 'Close' is a slightly more meditative minor-key affair. Closer 'Shrine' is a natural culmination on this increasing emotive arc, encompassing elements of all of the previous tonal shifts, whilst retaining the sound that really makes them "them". A fulfilling and thrilling ride, and one i'd be happy to take again.

The long-awaited new album from CYMBALS is named after a book by Princeton academic, Daniel T. Rodgers, which addresses the fragmentation of ideas towards the end of the last century and how collective meanings have become uncertain. Singer and guitarist Jack Cleverly writes: "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." Produced by Dreamtrak (Swim Deep, Chad Valley, Hot Chip) in his Hackney studio and written collectively over the last 12-months, the group have taken their time to carefully piece the album together, song-by-song, in sequence.

The album was completed following a final mix from Daniel Rejmer (Foals, Everything Everything) and the result is testament to the band’s attention to detail: a cleaner, brighter sound than their brattier early recordings, edging towards the European sophistication of the end-of-the-century French house Jack grew up around. Singles 'Like An Animal', 'The End' and 'The Natural World' are characterized by an upbeat disco cool and all push the 7-minute mark, whereas ‘Winter 98’, ‘This City’, and ‘Call Me’ are brooding, stark synth-led numbers reminiscent of early-New Order, with some lyrics sung in Jack’s native French. The literary inspiration runs further through the album. The track ‘The 5%’, more obviously making reference to the themes of the album's namesake, declares “Time can be erased, you’re stupid if you try and stay in place,” over a pulsing bassline and swirling electronics. ‘Like an Animal’ is inspired by the intellectual and moral confusion of the main character in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain. The album has even garnered literary responses of its own by British poet and novelist Joe Dunthorne, author of Submarine. “I told Joe about the book and the way the album was kind of a reaction to it, and he threw my rationalisation of it back at me through a short story inspired by the album.” says Cleverly. “It helped reveal the emotional territory of the songs. He showed me how I had been dividing things up artificially - desires and priorities, getting older and not being able to stop writing music…”

Through the writing of this album, CYMBALS have inevitably matured. “We've never been in it just for a laugh," says Cleverly; “but things got confused when we said we wanted to keep it fun – we just didn't want to end up bitter, having chased a hollow dream. But this album is less about us; it's more outward looking, more aware of the world at large." Despite the weighty literary influences, the band are keen to separate themselves from the over-earnestness that can sometimes accompany such associations. “I hate the whole 'serious earnest-singer-songwriter-thing,’” says Jack. “With this album I really wanted to get away from that and make music that makes people want to dance and feel joy. Neil's kick drum is the most important thing we have to say as a band. Is this all "fun"? Yes, of course, but at the same time, not just that." Produced by Dreamtrak & mixed by Daniel Rejmer. Featuring a new poem and short story by Joe Dunthorne.


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Can confirm that this is a great record housed in a great sleeve 🙌 https://t.co/8Oh9TEafby
Mon 21st - 5:36
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Mon 21st - 5:26
💫 COMPETITION 💫 @idlesband are back with their latest album ‘Ultra Mono’ out Friday. Pre-order now to be in with a… https://t.co/CyweDMt0KV
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Happy Monday everyone ☀️ We’re OPEN as usual today 12 - 5 for browsing, purchasing and ‘click n collect’ orders. Se… https://t.co/MkhZyXFNDz
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Glad you could make it in and well done on getting that one ⚡️ https://t.co/ozuMIqLa2y
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