Album Review
Lenses Alien

Lenses Alien
by Cymbals Eat Guitars


Review Date
20th September 2011
Reviewed by
Luke Merson

After a couple of Line-up changes and the pressure of following up a stunning debut album (Why There Are Mountains), Cymbals Eat Guitars could have been forgiven for stumbling at the increasingly important second album hurdle. Lenses Alien is anything but a stumble, with the band crafting their swarming 90’s alt-rock style into a darker, more frenetic, sound. With 2009’s Why There Are Mountains, Cymbals Eat Guitars demonstrated that they were a band capable of developing swarming soundscapes, with tight-execution so rare on such ambitious early releases. Lenses continues this trend, the band’s sound is still rich with stunning guitar riffs, melodic piano and D’Agostino’s potent vocal presence.

Throughout Lenses Alien a masterful balance is kept between D’Agostino’s dynamic vocals and the group’s punishing musical momentum. “Plainclothes” opens with some of the album’s more audible lyrics. “There was a man, who killed a state trooper/drove his pick-up truck to Belmar and slept in the beach house/I dream of the day, when two protons collide” These darkly poetic vocals illustrate two of Lense’s recurring themes; a fascination with urban myth and D’Agostino’s penchant for sweeping topic changes, as if the lyrics were a stream of conscious thought.

Lenses Alien is at times a challenging album. Powerful build-ups tend to float away, incomplete; like a lost thought, leaving listeners teetering on the edge. “Secret Family” is one such song. It starts out with a bright guitar riff, before developing into one of the heavier tracks on the album, filled with intermittent bursts of At the Drive-In like instrumentals. The desire for resolution is never fulfilled, and unexpectedly it creates an effect more powerful than if the build-up had fully materialised. Success in unlikely places like this is part of what makes Lenses Alien such a strong piece of work.

The album draws to an end with the song “Gary Condit”. The feedback laden guitars of Why There Are Mountains rear their head prominently half way through the song and perfectly complement D’Agostino’s voice as it churns and transforms into a scream at the song’s culmination. The album’s final few lines feel like a heavy page being torn, bringing Lenses Alien’s journey to an appropriately abrupt halt.

This album rewards multiple listens; with the heavy, sometimes busy, sound unveiling itself most effectively over time. With Cymbals Eat Guitars producing albums of such a high quality it won’t be long before they are propelled to forefront of the alternative rock scene. Lenses Alien is undoubtedly one of 2011’s strongest sophomore efforts to date.


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