Release Date: Feb 4, 2014
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Cymbals' third full-length album, 2014's The Age of Fracture, finds the '80s post-punk-influenced ensemble further refining their guitar- and keyboard-heavy sound. Beginning with their 2011 debut, Unlearn, and 2013 sophomore effort Sideways, Sometimes, Cymbals displayed a knack for the kind of angular dork-funk, synthesizer-centric dance music, and skittery, intellectual punk first championed by such iconic '80s acts as Talking Heads and Orange Juice. The Age of Fracture is no exception with the London-based quartet delving into a frenetic and even more high-concept and sonically layered collection of songs.
Cymbals’ 2011 debut, ‘Unlearn’, drew on post punk, most notably Talking Heads. For the follow-up, the London four-piece say they want to get away from anything arch and serious and “make music that makes people want to dance and feel joy” – so they’ve traded the jerky shapes for gleaming digital perfection on ‘The Age Of Fracture’. ‘Winter ’98’ is a fine example, a narcotic drift of multi-layered synthetic strings offset with the odd guitar twang and frontman Jack Cleverly sing-speaking in French.
”We can hear the passing of time” chimes Cymbals vocalist Jack Cleverly on the disco-tinged ‘The Natural World’, a statement of intent and a microcosm for the amalgamation of big ideas and catchy as hell tunes on this, their second album.The line also aptly hints at the progress the band have made. Debut ‘Unlearn’ showed promise but ‘Age of Fracture’ is that promise realised and then some. It’s bigger, more electronic and packed full of ideas, their sound having evolved from slightly scrappy punk-funk into sleeker, disco-infused house and synth-pop.There are also lofty ideas at play.
If all the think pieces in the world couldn’t settle on how exactly the world has changed, let us at least agree that it has changed, in complex ways that become more difficult to parse with every day. In 2012, Daniel T. Rodgers penned a book in which he posited that Western society underwent an epochal crisis of confidence following World War II.
At its best and purest, pop music is about basic, visceral pleasures. The hook you can’t get out of your head. The simple chord combination that tickles your spine. The clever turn of phrase or the perfectly-placed cymbal crash. Such moments may take painstaking work to create, and reveal complex ….
It’s safe to say that London-based foursome Cymbals are not ones for vanishing off the face of the earth for a few years between releases. The band’s new record, called The Age Of Fracture after Princeton academic Daniel T Rodgers’ book of the same name, is their third album in a little over three years – if you take into consideration 2012’s mini album, Sideways, Sometimes. Despite the speed and consistency of the band’s work rate, there has been a clear progression from their debut album, Unlearn, since its release in 2011.
This new four-piece from London toss electro-psych, DFA-esque disco, and warbling synth-pop into a sack, shake them up, and dump it all out into a jumbled heap. Their debut record, The Age of Fracture, has a few highlights; there are several sure-fire winners in this mix. "The Natural World" sports crisp synth tones as robust as any vintage Trevor Horn production; the catty vocals and disjointed electronic flourishes in "Empty Space" call back to LCD Soundsystem, and New Order-ish lead single "Erosion" turns the reverb all the way up for its swirling guitar tones.
CYMBALS is in crisis. The Age Of Fracture, their second album, is named after a book by Princeton academic, Daniel T. Rodgers, that examines the parsing of culture into quarantined micromarkets in the post-war West. The album, Age Of Fracture, finds this U.K. band looking inward upon its fractured ….
Cymbals The Age of Fracture (Tough Love) As the social contract unspools, maybe the best course of action is dancing in the wreckage. So it goes with the second disc from Cymbals, a thinking man's London fourpiece that updates Thatcher-era synth-pop and post-punk yearnings with slapping syncopation and post-millennial angst. Don't be fooled by the surface-level patina of dour alienation and academic name-dropping, either.
There’s always been something that gently naggs about CYMBALS, something difficult to put a finger on. Perhaps it’s the tendency towards unusual vocal inflections, all that use of French, or the fluttering from sharp edged art rock on one song to warm disco funk on the next. Worst of all, however, is that for all the band’s potential to really get your goat, and no matter how hard you might try, they’re actually quite difficult to disregard.