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From its opening bars, the sophomore album by New York quartet Cymbals Eat Guitars almost literally drawls “college radio… yeah”. Nine-minute opener ‘Rifle Eyesight’ is something of a slacker-rock epic, with its sparse production and simple melodies slashed across with fuzzed-up guitars, it’s heavily Pavement-esque. Eventually it morphs into something reminiscent of Nirvana’s ‘Something In The Way’, only smoother.

All bases covered first up then, it would seem. Lyrics like “remember when you and I got so high” reinforce the hazy, drug-tinged vibe. Yet the strength of the songwriting throughout this record for the most part overrides the nagging notion that it’s all rather contrived. ‘Definite Darkness’ has passages of quiet beauty, harmonies and space, while ‘Plainclothes’ is like a noisier take on late-era Lemonheads. ‘Another Tunguska’, meanwhile, is a simple, bass-driven pop song.

In fact the prominent bass/distorted guitars style that pervades ‘Lenses Alien’ anchors this music to that long-mourned era of early-nineties US alternative rock. The exception to the rule is ‘The Current’, a short track that would have worked superbly as an instrumental. This is a notably good collection of songs; get out that college radio and tune in.

By Chris Watkeys

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