Release Date: Jun 9, 2017
Record label: Partisan
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Dream Pop
"The man in ecstasy and the man drowning--both throw up their arms" observed writer Franz Kafka, and there perhaps could be no truer statement as Cigarettes After Sex's front man Greg Gonzalez unveils this self-titled debut. The Brooklyn quartet have slowly but surely crafted music with authenticity and intimacy over the last four years, and this is their biggest collection to date. With an adoring underground audience of sleep-deprived soul grazers, lovers and the skin hungry by their side, the band's artistry is cherished in loyalty and remedy which could well rocket them in to the breaking of dawn, but that's not before the night is uncovered - because this is music which manifests in the dark.
I n an interview Cigarettes After Sex's frontman Greg Gonzalez gave last year - around the time word-of-mouth had belatedly turned the band's 2012 debut EP into something of an online phenomenon - he suggested that the greatest praise he had received was from fans who'd told him that his music helped with their sleep anxiety. It's slightly curious for an artist to be delighted when people tell him that his band makes them want to nod off, but it gives you an insight into the kind of music Cigarettes After Sex make. Hushed and subdued, every song on their eponymous debut album proceeds at more or less the same somnambulant pace, the echoing guitars and softly tapped drums gently supported by washes of ambient synthesiser.
The fascinating thing about Greg Gonzalez' Cigarettes After Sex is the way they've broadened their entire world with their debut, but how their palette of sound has, if anything, narrowed. Following a handful of singles and one EP announcing them as an ambient-indie force to be reckoned with, things here are more refined and sharply focused, minimal precision the order of the day. The Brooklyn four-piece use space in the same way as The Xx: leaving gaps between instruments, adding breathy pauses and missed beats.
The opening track on Cigarettes After Sex's self-titled debut album is a slow-as-molasses alt-rock ballad simply titled "K. " It chronicles lead singer Greg Gonzalez's infatuation with a girl named Kristen, and pinpoints the very moment their relationship shifts from strictly casual to something more substantial. "We had made love earlier that day, with no strings attached/But I could tell that something had changed," Gonzalez croons in a voice close to a whisper.
Their self-titled debut album, which comes almost five years after their breakout EP I., is a collection of musings on romance and eroticism that have the languid pace and frank tone of a post-coital haze. "Ethereal" is one of the most overused words in music criticism, but it would be impossible to discuss this record without it, as Greg Gonzalez's reverb-cloaked vocals mingle with gentle yet resonant string, bass, and guitar parts that are pleasingly abstract and impressionistic. Sex is at the core of plenty of good indie rock, but it's rarely discussed this plainly, making the band's self-titled debut a true novelty.
Brooklyn's Cigarettes After Sex make the kind of music you might well expect from their moniker: hazy, ambient indie designed for the reflective moments of the afterglow in the twilight hours. After becoming something of a phenomenon on YouTube, vocalist and mastermind Greg Gonzalez envisaged the band's debut album as being like a feature-length film, where elements repeat and overlap. As such, Cigarettes After Sex is filled with hazy, swooning guitars and lilting percussion, with Gonzalez relating tales of great, sweeping romances and pronouncing his love boldly.