After a long-awaited two years punctuated by rare single drops, Cigarettes After Sex return with their new album, Cry, which carries much potential, but ultimately lacks sustenance.
It opens with a characteristically Cigarettes sound in ‘Don’t Let Me Go’; think soft drums, haunting reverb guitar melodies and melancholic vocals which, as ever, depict the heartbreak at losing a lover. It eases us back in after such a time apart and reminds us of what is so unique about this band: their ability to perfectly match the heartbreak of the lyrics to undulating melodies in a despondent tone of pain.
From here, however, the album seems to peter out. Despite the more stripped-back instrumentalisation of ‘Kiss It Off Me’, the stereotypical tongue-in-cheek lyrics and music blend almost too cohesively into the previous song for it to be at all distinctive, and this theme continues for the rest of the album. This seems to be the case in the second half especially, with tracks like ‘You’re The Only Good Thing In My Life’, ‘Falling in Love’ and ‘Pure’ seeming to merge into one as they all cover issues of sex and love and the pain which comes with it while being accompanied by slow basslines and single guitar lines in what could be one long track, but is split into three sluggish and tedious songs.
It is no surprise that the stand-out track ‘Heavenly’ was the lead single from this album. It promises some long-awaited variation in the form of Twin-Peaks, Jules-Cruise-esque synth in the intro, marking what could be a long-awaited opportunity for the album to explore sonically beyond the realms of the band’s comfort zone. Yet this chance at variation is diminished by the repetitive lyrics and the bass instruments’ stereotypical sound, letting us down for the possibility of something new finally emerging in the rest of the album.
It is all well and good to have a well-rounded and sustained image of a band and sound, but diversity within a niche is still required for a band to survive for more than one album. Cry unfortunately does not have enough variation in it to meet these requirements, both within itself and in conjecture with their first eponymous album. The album frustratingly seems like more of an addendum of 9 songs to be tacked on to the end of their first album, rather than a stand-alone piece itself. It is sad, then, to see a band who have so much potential to play with their unique sound fall so short by relying on an outdated formula which had served them so well in the past. It is perhaps time they look beyond the parameters of themselves and aim to vary things, else they will more than likely remain in the past.
Image: Ebru Yildiz