Cigarettes After Sex - Cigarettes After Sex
- Released: 9 June 2017
- Label: Partisan Records
Released in June, I have been waiting for this album for some time. I’ve been a dedicated fan of CAS for the past few years. Prior to their new album – their first album – they had officially released 6 songs. I wasn’t aware of the band getting any real publicity or hype for these first 6. Certainly not the coverage their new album has received. Maybe that is a sign of how much weight an album release still carries, despite so many claims that it has become less and less relevant in the age of digital tunes.
3 of the first 4 tracks have been available for a little while, so there was a strong indication of how the album in full would sound. It would be a continuation of their 2012 EP and the single “Affection” from 2015. The 4 songs on their EP were all superb, as were Affection and it’s B-side “Keep on loving you”. The band were seemingly incapable of recording a bad song. So flawless was their mastering of their style, I began to think of them the same way that I think of Joy Division - in being able to apply a simple musical formula and approach, time and again, without ever becoming boring. Both bands are endearingly repetitive. Joy Division play much faster though. And Ian Curtis had a fantastically masculine, God-like voice. Greg Gonzalez’s voice couldn’t be more different. He, instead, has an feminine quality to his singing. And his whispering style appears far more confident than the roar of Curtis.
Plucked electric guitars are ubiquitous across Cigarettes After Sex, with simple quiet snare-led drums backing. Acoustic guitars are used on different songs, giving songs like “Sweet” and “Sunsetz” an almost singer-songwriter style that is not what I hear on every track. Their dream pop sound is reminiscent of Beach House in places. They don’t have the variety of pace which Beach House do though. They don’t have fast songs and slow songs, or loud songs and quiet songs. All their songs so far are slow and quiet, putting them very much in a you’ll-love-it-or-you’ll-hate-it category. What stands out is how unique their sound is. It’s very David Lynchian. Musically it is classic dark pop. Lyrically it is more modern. The songs are classic romantic love songs, but filled with references to life today. On songs where low bass notes are given a more prominent place, they sometimes remind me of tracks from The Smashing Pumpkins album “Adore”. On each song then Gonzalez’s voice is so centre stage they can also be reminiscent of How to Dress Well – another act whose androgynous vocal style is the cornerstone of their quality.
There are a few similarities to draw between Cigarettes After Sex and the HTDW album “What is this heart?” because it is HTDW’s most song-based, most acoustic album. But HTDW still reach far further into different genres, styles and tones – as also seen in the progression of Perfume Genius. Cigarettes After Sex at no point, on no song, depart from their unique style and formula. Some won’t enjoy that aspect of the band or the album. It doesn’t bother me. It’s interesting is to consider where the band might go next. If they release a second album in a month, a year, or 10 years – and once again have written and recorded another collection of songs that are not only similar to each other, but are no different to those on their first album...what will the response be from their fans and the music industry? I’ve listened to the album a good 20 times now, and while there are times when you lose focus, each time I listen to the album I find myself enjoying the closing tracks “John Wayne” and “Young and Dumb”. But then, when a singer soothingly, expressionlessly, says “We wanna go where the girls are young and dumb – and hot as fuck...” how can you not smile, tap your toe and press play again once the song ends... :-)