Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lenses Aliens

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Hailing from New Jersey, Cymbals Eat Guitars are a four-person band with one album, Why Are They Mountains, under their belt already. Released in 2009, that album rewarded this band with comparisons to bands like Modest Mouse, and Pavement. On this new effort, they looked to work on it more collaboratively, and the effect of this is a band that sounds more controlled, and the instrumental parts feel tightly knit and well thought out on Lenses Alien.

The first song is “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name),” which is an eight and a half minute long track, but it’s really just two songs pushed together with the help of some atmospheric guitar feedback noise in between the two. For roughly the first three minutes of this track, you have this lovely bouncy and jangly alternative rock song, complete with the harsh vocals of lead singer, Joseph D’Agostino, whose voice reminds me a bit of John Paul Pits, of Surfer Blood, due to its ability to turn ragged and grungy in an instant. You get a chance to see this switch to grungier on the second half of the first song, in which the guitars are fiercer, the cymbals crash more, and the pacing is faster. D’Agostino gets his chance to command the song with his vocals that are exasperated and rough at first. However, as the song calms down, so does the raspy nature in his voice, softening, if only for contrast as the song resurges to its final height.

After this monster of a song, it would be easy for the rest of the other tracks to pale in comparison, but each brings a lovely new element to the table. On “Shore Points,” you have a nice little surf rock jam, complete with angular guitars and enticing backing vocals from the other band members. Following immediately on “Keep Me Waiting,” there’s a killer bass line just bubbling under the surface, waiting for your ears to pick it out and move your body to it.

 While there are softer songs on here, like “Wavelengths” toward the end of the album, Lenses Alien does seem to fall a little one dimensional upon the inaugural listen. Perhaps there is too much of a good thing on this album; the heavy guitar and nasal vocals seems a little grating by the end of the ten song album. Maybe, with much repeated listening, there is more to this sophomore release, but as of now, it’s a pretty middle of the road album.

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