Cymbals Eat Guitars: Pretty Years (Sinderlyn) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Cymbals Eat Guitars

Pretty Years


Sep 12, 2016 Cymbals Eat Guitars Bookmark and Share

It’s been constant flux for Cymbals Eat Guitars since they seemingly came out of nowhere in 2009 with the excellent Why There Are Mountains. Their two subsequent releases, Lenses Alien and LOSE, were much better albums, yet they didn’t capture as mass an audience as their debut, perhaps because the band never fit neatly into a specific milieu within NYC’s sprawling scene. Now, after multiple lineup changes, they’re more cohesive than ever, gelling into a lean, taut unit on Pretty Years, their finest album to date, in which they finally sound at home in their own sonic universe.

As an act who reside largely in the NYC area, Pretty Years often feels like a trip to one of the local amusement parks, occasionally conveying ennui and prosaic minutiae akin to a New Jersey Six Flags, other times engendering the grime and vertigo attendant to Brooklyn’s Coney Island. When singer/guitarist Joseph D’Agostino growls “a pretty painted house in a shitty part of town” on opener “Finally,” he exhibits this dichotomy with élanone of confusion leavened by instinctive self-awareness. His words resonate with wizened guile, as clarion guitar riffs and a lock step rhythm section and gilded keyboard flourishes are just the sonic fireworks necessary as an entry point into the see-saw emotional ride you’re on.

The Springsteen nodding visceral anthem “4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)” demonstrates just how great D’Agostino is at framing a scene with cinematic imagery. It’s packed to the gills with nonjudgmental, expository character sketches, belying its sonic ballastaddicts, random lost souls, and good friends are held up for examination, tied together by the innate need for love in the most extreme, desperate situations, with an adrenalized will for survival ultimately illustrating what it’s like to be alive in his anomic world.

The track that precedes it, “Dancing Days,” is the album’s crown jewel and emotional centerpiece, referencing in its lyrics a conversation D’Agostino had with bassist Matthew Whipple in which it was suggested that the band were, to paraphrase, “wasting their pretty years out on tour.” But listening to the fruits of this struggle, so poignantly crystallized on this magisterial ballad, makes you realize that these years haven’t been wasted at all. They’ve glacially been building to this, one of the most inventive, adventurous, and best rock records of 2016. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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