With Pretty Years, Cymbals Eat Guitars returns with an album that will undoubtedly win the Staten Island collective a new wave of fans. The band has been open about the weak commercial showing of its solid and lovely album LOSE, and felt the need to move forward with more energy and a stronger bond between arty intentions and wider appeal. Press materials for this latest release reference an appreciation for The Smiths, Neil Young, David Bowie and The Cure. The sense of adventure exhibited by each of those acts in their best work, including the ability to marry the familiar with the weird, truly comes to the fore.

“Wish” is a sleek, danceable track that imagines Bruce Springsteen walking among the dirty streets of NYC during the grittiest days of the new wave, the spirit of “Dancing in the Dark” as performed by Discipline-era King Crimson while James Chance and the Contortions cheer from the sidelines. “Close” carries an urgency and determination that calls to mind a meeting between Modest Mouse and Kraftwerk. Opening track “Finally” acknowledges the powerful simplicity of Neil Young while sounding not much like him at all.

There’s a lot of bite and bark behind that tune as well as pieces such as “Have a Heart,” the breakneck Replacements-style punk of “Beam,” and the throbbing, full-on vulgar display of musical acumen called “WELL.” This level of ferocity and masterfully focused anger is rare to hear from a band four albums into its career.

The album’s title refers to singer/guitarist Joseph D’Agostino’s comment about losing his youthful appearance, as well as some of the grit and drive men of a certain age possess. If this is a declaration that the band still has both of those in spades, it’s completely believable and entirely impressive. The material kicks, races and impresses throughout, demonstrating that these are four cats a long way from going gently into that good turnpike drive.

There’s time for quieter turns as on the would-be ballad “Shrine,” which closes out the album. It’s a strange, distorted gaze at something personal, and the band is committed to it for nearly seven minutes. “Dancing Days” provides some musical and emotional complexity that goes beyond what we’ve heard from the band before, slowly revealing its charms and intentions. The listener has no choice but to hang on every note, each unexpected twist and unforeseen turn.

“4th of July, Philadelphia (Sandy)” examines the weird world of life on the road. It’s probably the loudest, boldest and heaviest thing on a record populated by wild, weird things that are consistently entertaining and, even in those darkest moments, smile-inducing.

It’s great to hear a band that can blend the imaginative and the tuneful and sound this committed and angry. The cool, dispassionate bands are the ones who fade away quickly. Bands like Cymbals Eat Guitars ones that splatter their blood and guts across an LP worth of tunes without apology are the ones that survive.

  • Concert Review: Bob Mould/Cymbals Eat Guitars

    On the way out of the Bowery Ballroom, I overheard two people conversing about the Bob Mou…
  • Cymbals Eat Guitars: LOSE

    [xrr rating=4.0/5]Cymbals Eat Guitars filled their 2009 debut, Why There Are Mountains wit…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Hunt Sales Memorial: Get Your Shit Together

Stamped into his personality and his music is a boldness that commands respect. …