Cymbals Eat Guitars released its debut album Why There Are Mountains in 2009, receiving a response that far exceeded the expectations of most. Two years have gone by since that early hype cycle began, and a lot has changed in those twenty-four months, including more than half of the original lineup that recorded that first LP.
In early 2011, the band settled down in a basement in New Jersey to finish writing a follow-up. Rehearsing and recording demos in a suburban home allowed for a lot of freedom the band hadn’t enjoyed in the past. Shared Brooklyn rehearsal spaces had always meant long commutes, scheduling difficulties, parking tickets. Decamping to the suburbs meant fewer distractions and more time to explore the outer reaches of song structure and melody, and to edit, reign in, and refine those same elements.
Lenses Alien, the result of these collaborative explorations, is a stunning example of a band growing into itself – learning to collaborate, becoming more confident. At its core, it’s a marriage of classic pop forms and ambient haze that makes for a stark, dusky psychedelia. Songs like our Jam of the Day, “Definite Darkness,” move with the frenetic urgency of romance that seemingly begins and ends all at once. It’s a relentlessly complex listen, striking a balance between the archaic and the inviting and is as much a document of doubts and contradictions as of irreverent joy.