In the year that two of the British shoegazing acts of the 1990s, Ride and Slowdive, release their first albums in over two decades, along come an American act from the same ilk to give us a debut album that suggests that the sound the Americans dubbed dreampop is continuing to produce absolutely wonderful sounds. There’s also echoes of slow-core type bands like Low and Mazzy Star, with a nod to the 1980s 4AD roster of acts like the Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil with the shimmering melancholy within.
That’s not to dismiss Cigarettes After Sex as some kind of retro sound. This is a fresh take on it all, and the first thing that draws you in is the androgynous voice of Greg Gonzalez. It’s slow and dreamy music, with a definite noir undertone- as if David Lynch had decided that a shoegaze-dreampop band was needed for one of his projects.
A number of the tracks on this album have been doing the rounds for a while – opening track ‘K’ first appeared as a single back in late 2015 – but the reality is a very cohesive whole, without a duff track among them. Even more reassuring in this age of streaming is how this is an album that can be played from start to finish, with ‘Each Time You Fall In Love’ and ‘John Wayne’ amongst the highlights.
Without wishing to descend into hyperbole, I genuinely expect this album to do well on the year-end lists (hey! Don’t you realise we’re going to have to start thinking about this when summer’s over?) and it will deserve to be there. To paraphrase Wilco, I can’t help wondering if they are trying to break listeners’ hearts. But what a soundtrack to be heartbroken to…