CYMBALS – The Age of Fracture

written by: January 23, 2014
Album-art-for-The-Age-of-Fracture-by-CYMBALS Release Date: January 27, 2014


Sounds of a crowded bar melting into hypnotizing dance pop kick off “Winter ’98,” the opening track of CYMBALS’ latest album, The Age of Fracture.

The London foursome’s new-age disco sound takes on a literary, outward-looking approach, revealing an intelligence comparable to Of Montreal, and a European sophistication lacking in its often spoiled and childish previous albums. Jack, Neal, Dan, and Luke are not the “badly rehearsed joke band” they were in 2011.

The title is derived from the award-winning book of the same name by Daniel T. Rodgers.

Singer and guitarist Jack Cleverly told British music site Broadway World, “It hit me that I often feel paralyzed by the feeling that everything is ‘too complicated,’ and that many people I know feel that paralysis. I realized that this way of thinking can be traced through these songs.”

This sense of stagnation is evident throughout the album, and it’s clear that the band is grappling with something larger than itself.

CYMBALS was inspired by Rodgers’ exploration of the late-20th century shaking of collective purposes and meanings that had provided a sense of social cohesion and consistency: citizenship, gender and racial identities, economic structures, and more. It’s heavy context for a very fun album.

Swirling over a gyre of electronics, “The 5%” makes the most direct references to Rodgers’ The Age of Fracture, declaring, “Time can be erased, you’re stupid if you try and stay in place.”

Produced by Dreamtrak (Hot Chip, Swim Deep), The Age of Fracture is largely in English with smatterings of Cleverly’s native French. Vocals throughout the album range from penetrating to airy, floating along with the rest of the music.

It features gritty, dance-worthy singles like “The Natural World” that push the six, seven, and nine-minute marks, including “Like an Animal,” CYMBALS’ ode to house music, with its sexy guitar riff and cool, upbeat disco. Short but sweet, “The Fracture of Age” is a brief instrumental interlude clocking in at nearly two minutes, a reprieve from the long, intense tracks that comprise the album.

The penultimate track, “The End,” rocks a synth line that belongs to an ’80s runway caricature; its smooth, French lyrics could easily be replaced by an onlooker shouting, “Work it, girl!”

This is in stark contrast to synth-led, brooding, dirge-like tunes like “This City” and the closing track “Call Me,” which is notable for its doleful bass line. The album concludes by collapsing and fragmenting into silence.

No longer self-centered, CYMBALS is exploring big ideas with beautiful, dance floor-ready electro-pop and indie disco. Bright, clean, and complex, The Age of Fracture is a breath of fresh air.

CYMBALS – The Age of Fracture tracklist:

  1. “Winter ’98”
  2. “The Natural World”
  3. “You Are”
  4. “Empty Space”
  5. “The 5%”
  6. “The Fracture of Age”
  7. “Like an Animal”
  8. “Erosion”
  9. “This City”
  10. “The End”
  11. “Call Me”