Los Angeles – Formed in El Paso, Texas, the Greg Gonzalez led quartet, Cigarettes After Sex had a breakthrough in 2015 with their single, “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby,” growing to 55.8 million+ views on YouTube. While the song was a couple years old, it was seemingly an overnight sensation. The now Brooklyn based band consisting of keyboardist Phillip Tubbs, bassist Randy Miller and drummer Jacob Tomsky pack venues both domestically and overseas. Their 90s influenced sound echoes the likes of Mazzy Star with dark and smoky tones. The hazy, romantic ambient pop style is paired well with Gonzalez’ pacifying vocals. Combine that with strong storytelling, the long-awaited self-titled debut record from Cigarettes After Sex surpasses any expectations.
I found the slow burn 10-track debut to be soaked in melancholic sounds. However, the record is arresting from beginning to end. The tracks are both soothing and stylistic tracks without trying too hard. You’ll definitely be aching for more after the end of each song. We get a feel of the dark pop tones with opener, “K.” The understated, romance-themed gem showcases Gonzalez’s aptitude to create a distinctive mood over the course of five plus minutes. Follow-up track “Each Time You Fall In Love” is focused on nostalgia while it drifts into the dream-pop/shoegaze soundscape. The airy melody alongside Gonzalez’ androgynous vocals comes off like an adult lullaby. Speaking of that, Cigarettes After Sex are a great band to listen to while dealing with insomnia as the music could gently ease you into a peaceful sleep. That’s not to say their music is boring, but it has this hazy, dream-like quality that calms your spirit when needed the most. “Sunsetz” is a gentle song that guides you along through past recollections, both painful and memorable. With placid guitars, yearning vocals, and vivid storytelling, you become a part of the song as it takes hold of you.
My favorite track is “Apocalypse.” The strangely beautiful composition features delicate guitars, subdued drums, and tender vocals. It’s another song articulating the details of a relationship falling out of tune, ending in, well, an apocalypse of sorts. “Your lips, my lips, apocalypse” is my favorite line here as it connects on a physical, emotional, and dramatic level. As the song continues, you’re thinking about your own previous relationships and the direction it headed and possibly could have headed. Falling in the soundscape between 60s pop and 90s shoegaze, “Truly” is another harrowing track displaying the many talents of the band. Cigarettes After Sex has this enigmatic demeanor about them. Their material, in more ways than one, is mysterious and gorgeous. The music belongs in a David Lynch film, but even on its own, it works very well. I admit, the mood has to be right, but when you listen to this record, be patient. It’s a trip through wondrous, atmospheric vibes and expressive storytelling. Bottom line, just keep calm and listen to Cigarettes After Sex.
Cigarettes After Sex is available for purchase through iTunes. LP, CD, and Vinyl are available via Partisan Records. Head over to the Cigarettes After Sex Facebook page for tour dates.
Photo by Ebru-Yildiz
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