If Beach House is the meal, Cigarettes After Sex is now the faint neutralized waft of flavour when you begrudgingly wash the dishes, scraping off the residue of old food and dried gravy. A variant of this tasted good, once upon a time.
Their self-titled debut became one of those records that appeared from nowhere, that everyone thought they had discovered before everyone else. The cinema noir sensuality was infectious; Greg Gonzalez’s reverb-drenched androgynous croon sounded like an extraterrestrial clone of C86 culture with a greater knowledge of shoegaze’s starry-eyed principles.
Sadly, Cry is as big a casualty of second album syndrome as they come. The debut’s intrigue is replaced with a slapdash eroticism and an overdose of the ‘nice guy’ complex. Even the tracklisting reads as a poetry index for softboi anti-heroes – ‘Don’t Let Me Go’, ‘Pure’, ‘Falling in Love’, ‘Cry’. The latter contradicts its sleepy bassline with a lament that the singer is too complicated and can’t be faithful (“I wish I could”). He says he will only make you cry. But it’s ok, because him telling you this is self-aware and romantic.
On ‘Kiss It Off Me’, this nice guy is now a roadside voyeur from the school of hard-knocks. Sure, “Could you love me instead with all the boyfriends you get? I could make you forget about all of those rich fuckboys” is more well-intentioned than a white van wolf-whistle, but its subsequent lament that she’ll probably break his heart is a fair few entitled steps along the road to the middle-aged man falling in love with a waitress because she’s been polite.
Without listening too hard, it’s easy to be washed away in the twilight reverb. The Cigs haven’t changed it up much, despite apparently taking inspiration from ’90s El Paso country instead of ’50s romantic pop. The trouble comes with the subtext now being one of toxicity rather than adventure.