Cymbals Eat Guitars sophomore album, Lenses Alien, splices the loud, obtuse extremities from late indie rock and creates something flowing, beautiful and modern.
Cymbals Eat Guitars exposed themselves in 2009 with their debut album Why There Are Mountains. The album heeded the call for indie rock, rich in melody, layer and percussion. It sent them packing—with bands like the Flaming Lips and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. They did a lot of vagabonding in 2010. One can only imagine what lessons you could learn traveling Europe with the Flaming Lips.
Their short but impactful experiences shine through in Lenses Alien. Joseph D’Agostino vocal style emulates pop punk. But lyrically, D’Agostino fills your head with a complex pallet of imagery, which is often as dark as it is beautifully composed. This holds true in the line, “There are people who put dirty hypodermic needles, between the seat cushion—of the movie theaters.” In the most inefficient way—D’Agostino could burn through an entire supply of verbal artillery to describe an image, singing “There was a man who killed a state trooper, drove his pickup truck to Belmar and slept in a beach house and dreamed of the day when protons collide, everything, everything changes.” It’s easy to get lost while traversing these lyrics. They portray flickers of scenes but not predictable stories. It might be a stretch—but Cymbals Eat Guitars is like the Jack Kerouac of indie rock.
Instrumentally, the guitars and keys don’t chase D’Agostino through songs. They accent the sporadic phrasing with clever changes and subtlety. Everyone in this band serves an obvious purpose, like cogs and gears attached at the hip. The music moves like a school of fish. If one fish moves, every fish moves—but it’s not easy to tell which one moves first.