Albums Of The Week

The slow burn of Cigarettes After Sex's debut album

Brooklyn-based Cigarettes After Sex comprise (from left) Jacob Tomsky, Greg Gonzalez, Phillip Tubbs and Randy Miller.
Brooklyn-based Cigarettes After Sex comprise (from left) Jacob Tomsky, Greg Gonzalez, Phillip Tubbs and Randy Miller.PHOTO: HOSTESS

Slowcore quartet Cigarettes After Sex keep it austere in their debut album and put the focus on their frontman's tender croon

In their debut album, Brooklyn- based quartet Cigarettes After Sex take indie-rock minimalism to the extreme, paring it down to its bare essentials.

The eponymous release comes five years after the band's much- vaunted debut EP, I., during which time the slowcore outfit catapulted from cult status to bona fide online stars, thanks to millions of YouTube views of their music videos.

The slow-burning, noir feel of the tracks is perfect for the after-hours as they quietly creep under your skin.

The aural styling hardly changes from song to song. The tempo might increase slightly, but it is essentially the same sound throughout the 10 tracks.

Contemporaries such as The xx might have a wider electronic palette to dip into, but for Cigarettes After Sex, it is primarily gently picked strings on reverb- laden electric guitars, sometimes backed by a strummed acoustic guitar, ambient keyboards, austere drum beats and stark basslines.

But whittling the music down is no bad thing because it puts the focus on band founder and frontman Greg Gonzalez's tender and androgynous croon.

  • DREAM POP


  • CIGARETTES AFTER SEX

    Cigarettes After Sex

    Partisan Records

    4/5 stars

His mellow voice is the type to tame wild beasts or, in this album's case, to whisper amorous lines in a lover's ear.

  • BOOK IT / CIGARETTES AFTER SEX - LIVE IN SINGAPORE

  • WHERE: Capitol Theatre, 11 Stamford Road

    WHEN: Aug 17, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $78 from Apactix (www.apactix.com or call 3158-8588); $98 at the door

He navigates modern romance tales with ease. Opening track K. (which stands for Kristen) is about a no-strings-attached relationship that turned serious, while Sweet has him musing about a lover sending private videos.

The lyrics can be pretty explicit - unprintable in a family newspaper - but the intimacy of Gonzalez's delivery ensures that they don't come across as creepy.

The more PG songs reveal him as a hopeless romantic.

He recounts the mistakes made with past relationships in Each Time You Fall In Love, but affirms his faith for love in Opera House, with its surreal lyrics about building a theatre for a lover in the jungle: "If I abandoned love, I'd be a man without dreams/I'd rather be out there staring death right between its eyes now."

The band will play their first show in Singapore at Capitol Theatre on Aug 17.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2017, with the headline 'Tracks that creep under your skin'. Print Edition | Subscribe