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Cymbals Eat Guitars – Pretty Years

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Sep 27, 2016.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Ah, The Weirdness.

    Generally speaking, The Weirdness hits plenty of artists looking to follow-up their most critically acclaimed album. The timeline goes something like this: The Artist has likely released several albums to generally positive reviews. The Artist may have a modest-yet-loyal fanbase. Then, something happens to The Artist, causing them to reach within and write The Defining Statement. The Defining Statement is an album that makes critics take notice; The Defining Statement is a bridge between fans and critics. In fact, sometimes (but not always), The Artist goes on to resent or even loathe the success of The Defining Statement, and in an act of defiance, they give into The Weirdness.

    The Weirdness is an album that turns heads. It is commonly experimental, a sonic left turn that pays more attention to The Artist’s tastes and less attention to what the fanbase may want. It can be an unfiltered and honest look into The Artist’s thoughts and influences. In short: The Weirdness can be awesome.

    Pretty Years is Cymbals Eat Guitars’ weird album. That may not seem entirely accurate when your discography includes an album as complex as Lenses Alien, but it does meet all of the criteria. Following LOSE, an album with enough grief for the critical community and enough hooks for an entirely new fanbase, Pretty Years arrives with a new motif. Recorded in just four days and utilizing mainly first and second takes, Pretty Years delivers itself as a raw embodiment of the band Cymbals Eat Guitars are at this point in their career.

    Merging the density of Lenses Alien’s production with the hooks of LOSE, Pretty Years is a welcome shift in gravity that propels the band forward as they borrow from the past. For example, lead single “Wish” blends abrasive Tom Waits-style vocals with what can only be described as the sounds of the E Street Band in Hell. Joseph D’Agostino’s voice is abrasive at first, but by the chorus, it feels comfortable. In the context of the album, it’s an absolute blast.

    “Wish” is a successful single in the sense that it cued listeners in on The Weirdness (even if there isn’t anything else quite as weird here), but at the same time, it proves a peculiar choice following the album’s biggest hook (and one of the band’s best songs to date). “Have a Heart” is one of several highlits here, fueled by the kind of well-penned nostalgia that makes Pretty Years universally relatable. The song also offers the instantly quotable line, “But I’m so out of sync/And you’re out of sync with me,” before D’Agostino sings of “things we did when we were young and evil” against buzzing synths and bouncing guitars (recalled later during “WELL”).

    “Have a Heart” is the first song of its kind that accomplishes the near impossible in making Cymbals Eat Guitars sound, well, dancey — a trend that continues with “Wish” and “Close.” Strangely enough, Pretty Years seems to double as Cymbals Eat Guitars’ most accessible album. In fact, opening track “Finally” feels like a primer for the band’s entire discography, an explosive anthem that details desire to “light up the night” with “refineries and Christmas lights.”

    These first four tracks serve as a warm introduction to the album’s heavier, fuzzier B-side. Songs like “4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)” and “Beam” pair bass-heavy guitars and percussion with lyrics as light as namedropping musician friends like Alex G and as heavy as the autobiographical terror of witnessing a friend’s near-death experience:

    My depression finally lifted
    All the adrenaline shocked my nervous system
    Swore I’d be present and grateful for every second/Later the feeling faded
    I couldn’t help it

    But Pretty Years’ defining moment is also its most unique; “Mallwalking” showcases Brian Hamilton’s multi-textured synths with sounds as surreal as the song’s content. A piano-driven fever dream about Columbine, the song is home to the album’s most memorable moment, as D’Agostino sings, “And when they got to me/Asked if I believe/I said, “Believe in what?”

    It’s these diverse faces that Cymbals Eat Guitars manage to wear without losing any of their genuineness that makes them such an integral part of today’s indie-rock realm. In just four days, the band managed to record the most ambitious, challenging and hook-laden record of their career. In “Dancing Days,” following a delicate falsetto that hardly sounds like D’Agostino, he sings, “Goodbye to my dancing days/Goodbye to the friends who fell away/Goodbye to my pretty years.” Perhaps he is still reeling from the loss detailed on the band’s last album, but at least he can take pride in the impact his album-length coping strategies will have on listeners for years to come.

  2. how many universesssss

    am i alive or dead innnn
    Sal Mastrocola likes this.
  3. Leftandleaving

    I will be okay. everything Supporter

    Even if i don't agree this is one of your best reviews friend
    Sal Mastrocola and Aaron Mook like this.
  4. Sal Mastrocola

    Making Music in Gatto Black

    This was a fantastic review. I was obsessed with Why There Are Mountains and Lenses Alien, but Lose never really caught me. After reading this I am now incredibly excited to listen to Pretty Years.
    Aaron Mook likes this.
  5. EmmanuelSCastle


    Cool review! The part about the Weirdness makes a lot of sense because the band did say they felt like they started from nothing with LOSE; I'm glad we got the Weirdness twice lol. I kind of feel like they could've been even weirder on this album, his vocals here feel more accessible than they've ever been imo which is the biggest weird thing about this. I feel like comparing this to Lenses Alien like you did is the way to go, as accessible and bouncy as it is, the sounds and textures are like. THE THING here.
    Aaron Mook likes this.
  6. Hey thanks bub! What don't you agree with? Still just not huge on the album?
    Thanks for reading! Be sure to let us know what you think.
    Zac Djamoos likes this.
  7. Leftandleaving

    I will be okay. everything Supporter

    Yeah, not really. I'm definitely coming around tho. Close and Have a Heart are some of my favs by them. I think the back half is better tho. Beam/Mallwalking/WELL is a good stretch and Shrine is like a better version of 2HipSoul. So I agree with most of it, really, just don't love it the way you do haha.
    Aaron Mook likes this.
  8. "4th of July"/"Beam"/"Mallwalking" is SUCH a good stretch. I think I might actually prefer "2HipSoul" though, haha.
    Zac Djamoos likes this.
  9. Damien Davies

    Idk Maybe Supporter

    This is one of my favourite albums of the year. Great review, Aaron.
    Aaron Mook likes this.
  10. First time listening to this band and damn its awesome. Read the review and was like "I must listen". I'll definitely check out their other stuff too. Great review, man!
    Aaron Mook likes this.
  11. angrycandy

    I’m drama in these khaki towns Supporter

    good review dude
    Aaron Mook likes this.
  12. Serenity Now

    deliver us from e-mail Supporter

    I'm in the process of coming around to this band and this may be the review/record that does it.

    I love the instrumentation & lyrical content on this release. Still need to come around to the vocals.
    Aaron Mook likes this.
  13. Aj LaGambina

    Hey man, we all can't be like you Supporter

    Really loving this review Aaron. I was pretty indifferent toward LOSE, and loved the band's side of their Devinyl split. Slept on this record for a little bit, but I listened through it last night and now I'm stressed that I have ANOTHER record to add to a too-crowded year-end list.
    Aaron Mook likes this.
  14. Serenity Now

    deliver us from e-mail Supporter

    Sooooooo I ended up buying the record and am really into the whole thing now.

    Another surprise takeover of my earbuds by a new band/record in 2016. Car Seat Headrest happened ~2 months ago.
  15. Elder Lightning

    A lightning bolt without a cloud in the sky Supporter

    Just wanted to point out that the ending of "Well" (from the guitar solo on) is fucking fantastic. As is this whole record.