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New Music: Cigarettes After Sex

By Nikayla Goddard, November 5 2019 —

Reminiscent of romantic grey and rainy days, the new nine-track album Cry from Cigarettes After Sex is similar to their previous works, but not in a monotonous way. The new album carries the same sultry ardour and slow, ethereal style that encapsulates Cigarettes After Sex, but this time taking a turn towards the darker, fleeting aspects of a borderline-toxic love. Compared to their previous self-titled album, Cry hones in more on bedroom and date scenes that waver back and forth between soulmate love and “everything is wrong but it’s alright” one-night stands.

While the songs vary between topics of love and loss, the similarity across all songs leaves a feeling of unease knowing that even the happiest of the album’s songs and the darkest are given a similar level of feel and tone. The underlying saturation of sex heightens this contrast as songs swing between references to both true love and fuckboy culture, with “Hentai” and the final track “Pure” anchoring the pervading sex appeal of the music.

Songs like “Falling in Love” and “Heavenly” are sweeter, headier pieces that encapsulate that genuine feeling of true love that shines in any indie-romance film without boiling over with roll-your-eyes clichés. “Heavenly” in particular is slightly more upbeat and cheery, arguably distinguishable from the rest of the album for that slight deviation from such a standard sound.

“Don’t Let Me Go” and “Cry” are both tracks of loss made even more tragic by their simple and bare music. The fact that “Cry” is the title track and speaks of falling out of love in a manner that does nothing more than “only make you cry,” is a dark but oddly refreshing take on modern romance where pop songs littering radio stations lately seem to focus on either first-look soulmates or crazy break-ups.

As a similarity to some modern pop, “Kiss It Off Me” follows a similar trajectory of pining for attention among less worthy boyfriends, asking “Could you love me instead / Of all the boyfriends you got? / Know I make you forget / About all of those rich fuckboys.” On the flip side, if this was sung as a typical pop song, it would lose a lot of the built-up authenticity and down-to-earth approach of their portrayal of a first encounter with a lover.

The effectiveness of the themes of love and loss are primarily effective and significant because of the style of Cigarettes After Sex. Had these songs have been paired with an upbeat drum track and electronics, it would slice through the tension and leave us entirely unsatisfied as listeners. While glancing at the lyrics it may not seem at first like a ground-breaking work, the entire album is strung in a complex balance between their style and vocals that pair with the lyrics to make something original.

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