Taylor-William Hill reviews Cigarettes After Sex’s sophomore album
After multiple listens, I’m still trying to figure out where I stand with Cry. On the one hand, I give it unrequited praise for being a Cigarettes After Sex album; on the other hand, it suffers from being too much of a Cigarettes After Sex album. It’s safe, repetitive and does little to build upon the absolute gem of their eponymous album that sort of just… appeared? I feel as though my anticipation for this album may be a driving force in my conflicting emotions for it.
Almost every musical trope from the band’s earlier work reappears in Cry: the dreary breathless vocals, a stylised reverb tonality that sounds as it’s been taken from a noir detective film and the and the occasional abrasive twang of the guitar. While these are all lovely things, they’ve almost become the prerequisites for making any Cigarettes After Sex song, which makes Cry feel like an album where its ethos is purely to tick the boxes of what made the last album so great. Furthermore, the second album still encapsulates the themes of love, romance, sex and various other synonyms.
Almost every musical trope from the band’s earlier work reappears in Cry
This time around, there seems to be a lot more innocent in lyrical content ‘Falling In Love’ was the first song I heard and it really sets the tone for many of the songs on the album. The lyrics are overly saccharine and have a very adolescent attribution to it; although its thematic repetition almost renders it as rhetorical – primarily because it’s more of the same from the last album. On the contrary, the song ‘Hentai’ demonstrates this almost unhinged and unfiltered narrative which explores ideas of suicide and erotic fetishism, and it all sounds really compelling. While ‘Hentai’ is my favourite off the album, there isn’t much to it tonally which makes it stand out from the other songs; I was drawn by the title and stuck around after I searched the lyrics online.
One thing this album will do spectacularly well (which the first album also unsurprisingly did) was a feature as decorative overlay music for films. As I mentioned earlier, their noir-mood tonality syncs up whimsically well to the films of Vincent Gallo, David Lowery and Sofia Coppola. A quick YouTube search for a Cigarettes After Sex song will reveal many of these fan-made music videos that, when they’re eventually made for the new releases, will probably improve the overall listening experience. There’s something winsome about seeing a Cigarettes After Sex song layered on top of your favourite pictures; their lyrics are so vivid that they sometimes align perfectly with the symbols on the screen.
their noir-mood tonality syncs up whimsically well to the films of Vincent Gallo, David Lowery and Sofia Coppola
Cry will make for excellent montage music; the album is a lot more forward in its sincerity and its frankness, it vividly presents a tableau of a relationship and all that comes with it. The niggling annoyances, questions of polygamy, the private sphere and the fear of being alone. It’s nice, very nice, but it becomes a bit too rhetorical that it loses its candidness and almost becomes burlesque.
If you liked the first album, you’re bound to like Cry. I liked the first album, and I like Cry, I just felt my anticipation for its release was outweighed by my enjoyment of the actual album.
The first album was a Marlboro Red, whereas Cry has a menthol filter.