Clever, Uncomplicated Pretty Years
What can one expect from a record and band whose album cover features a vacuum positioned as if it’s staring at an empty coffin surrounded by candles? Surprisingly, not an entirely bizarre record as one would presume. The New York based band, Cymbals Eat Guitars newly released record Pretty Years is far way off from an outlandish album, despite its cover. Instead, the band latches onto lo-fi art rock much like the band Pavement and other similar bands from the ’90s.
The first song, “Finally” opens with guitar that sounds more like a riff played at sound check. The steady drums, crackly guitar and Joe Strummer-esque vocals set the tone for the rest of the record. Songs like “Have a Heart” and “Beam” return to the roots of CEG. With nods to their earlier work Lose and Why There Are Mountains, the two songs will be recognizable to hardcore fans. “4th of July, Philadelphia (Sandy)” is saturated with clever lyrics like “And it landed like a joke/Like rubber banded bundles of dope.”
There are songs that buck the lo-fi sound and go for a more atmospheric synth tone, like “Close” and “Mallwalking” where the band has an opportunity to showcase their artsier side. With “Mallwalking” especially, the music that gently plays in the background sounds like a VHS tape distorting and, even though that may be unpleasant sound on its own, paired with the other music and vocals makes for an unforgettable song.
The beauty of this band’s music lies within its simplicity. Much like Pavement and Sebadoh, Cymbals Eat Guitars throws all of their energy into the pure act of creating music and releasing a record. They focus their energy on what really matters, woeful yet droll lyrics and instrumentation that is accessible. With its simplicity, it somehow demands more from its listener and allows for a much more intimate experience with the record.