Cymbals Eats Guitars' latest effort, Lenses Alien
, is a difficult album to pin down. At times, it can get downright dirty and leave you in the thick of it, not being able to find your way out of the tangle of noise that these four guys from Staten Island can create. But then, they bring you back with the next track, sometimes the next verse, just to start it all over again. The record comes out and grabs you right away, but you have no idea where it's going to take you. It's an odd combination of feelings that can leave someone anxious and excited simultaneously.
The album starts off with an eight minute epic, "Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)" combining dissonant but equally melodic guitar work with biting, violent lyrics. "Shot through the head" are actually the first words that hit your ears. From there, the first track flows by in movements. At times, it's reminiscent of the indie rock of the '90s, like Lonesome Crowded West
-era Modest Mouse and some heavier Pavement. At other times, the song just devolves into chaotic, layered distortion and keeps you there for a solid minute and a half before letting you up for air.
The rest of the album seems to use "Rifle Eyes" as a model of construction. "Keep Me Waiting" is one of the most straightforward songs on the album. It's fun, fuzzed-out, pop-punk in the key of bands like No Age and Male Bonding. The next track, "Plainclothes", keeps on building you up and letting you down before finally bringing it home in the closing seconds of the track and abruptly stopping.
Joseph D'Agostino's lyrics will warrant a listen with the CD booklet open for you to follow along. CD booklet, who am I kidding? More likely a tab on your browser set to Google your favorite lines of songs, but the point remains the same. Though the instrumentation is enough to keep most listeners entertained, D'Agostinos lyrics are equally important. Dealing with subjects like sex, violence, drugs, religion, paranoia, shot policemen, and the refreshing comfort of the beach, who wouldn't want to know every word?
The songs are catchy, melodic, and heavy at times. But as with everyone trying to walk that balance beam, Cymbals Eat Guitars stumble, if only for a second before regaining their composure. Some songs feel a bit clunky and uneven at parts. But no worries, they still stick the landing better than a gold-medalist at the Olympics.
MP3: "Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)"