Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lenses Alien

written by: September 2, 2011
Cymbals Eat Guitars - Lenses Alien Release Date: August 30, 2011


There are bands that possess the ability to invoke deep emotion. Cymbals Eat Guitars has an intertwining of instrumental play, the echo of a subtle tom drum beating well into the distance and a pronounced vocalist developing a multitude of spiritual and poetic points for the consumer to enjoy. They are a quartet of righteous dudes drumming, strumming and singing their way into America’s foremost thoughts. High school buddies turned musical sensation self-released their debut back in ’09, and with a couple years of touring, tuning and recording, are back with Lenses Alien.

Frontman and guitarist Joseph D’Agostino utilizes his vocal explorations to boldly go where only a handful of brave lyricists have ever gone before. Taking his choral prowess to new levels, he has the mobility to keep the pace in faster songs like, “Keep Me Waiting,” where his high pitch fits firmer than a Frenchman’s trousers, or work slower and more melodic tunes such as, “Definite Darkness,” showing that D’Agostino can pour out his lyrics like molasses on a cold January morning.

Drawing their name from Lou Reed lyrics and tailoring their sound around rock ‘n’ roll powerhouses like Pavement, D’Agostino has a high-pitched appeal that not only ties the album together, but captivates. With soaring highs mixed with dramatic guitars and synths, there is a boundless appeal to each track on Lenses.

The indie rock scene is abound with known acts that ramble through two-hour power sets and drop incredible albums packed with hit song after hit song. My Morning Jacket, Portugal. The Man and Foster the People are a few. Cymbals Eat Guitars, in its young career, is keeping pace with the festival circuit regulars and gaining speed. Their sound caught the attention of Pitchfork, who vehemently gave their debut an astounding 8.3/10. Not an easy feat in those circles, but being from New York might have upped their “cool guy” points by a couple.

All things considered, there is a more mature sound to Lenses compared to their first album, and their energy and attention to detail still remain.

With all that growing in a rapidly changing music industry, Cymbals is brave to keep their sound and keep the good thing that they have going. Lenses is a great traveling album and though they may not have a progressive sound like, for instance, Minus the Bear, they are still spot-on for a top-down, cross-country trip.

In some respects, Cymbals has moved away from a bohemian sound like that heard in “And The Hazy Sea,” from their first album, and traded it for a more rock sound by way of “Keep Me Waiting” from their latest, which also draws an out-of-tune but still rocking guitar backing. This song touts an irregular, momentarily mainstream sound but never lacks energy, and is raucous all the way through.

In a world where excess is rewarded, it’s refreshing to know that there are still acts out there willing to keep it bare-bones and make that sound fantastic. The tradeoff from Lenses Alien hovers somewhere between polished, yet not polished enough. The album is indeed an outstanding sophomore effort and has no lack of potential for helping Cymbals Eat Guitars to take off into the far beyond. The only question is: Will they land soundly on their feet? The magic eight-ball says, “It is decidedly so.”

Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lenses Alien Tracklist:

  1. “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)”
  2. “Shore Points”
  3. “Keep Me Waiting”
  4. “Plainclothes”
  5. “Definite Darkness”
  6. “Another Tunguska”
  7. “The Current”
  8. “Wavelengths”
  9. “The Secret Family”
  10. “Gary Condit”