Roisin reviews the latest album from Cigarettes After Sex, which tackles the topics of intimacy and romantic relationships through the lens of a 'love story' narrative.
Many alternative bands talk about love and sex. Yet not many bands can make listeners feel the way Cigarettes After Sex do. Their name for me says it all; if you've never listened to them, I think it's clear just from that title that you should expect some sort of erotic lyrics. Spoiler alert: this is exactly what you get! Their latest album, Cry, was recorded on the Spanish island of Mallorca. As is the island, the album is full of lush melodies and cinematic lyrics. I'd describe it as teasing; it leaves you wanting and needing more, but you're losing yourself to the music all at the same time.
Don’t Let Me Go is the first song on the album and the lyrics make it seem to be the start of a developing love story. The opening line is 'when I was young, I thought the world of you', setting the relationship up as the beginning of a budding romance in the midst of its honeymoon phase, where everything is going well. Yet, in the second verse, this shifts to 'I was dumb to let you drift away'. In this way, frontman Greg Gonzalez makes you think about how relationships can turn from sweet to bitter within a matter of time.
'I'd describe it as teasing; it leaves you wanting and needing more, but you're losing yourself to the music all at the same time'.
Kiss It Off Me is a song full of passion and erotica, as demonstrated by the lyric 'you always bite your lip when you’re feeling it as we move slowly'. The underlying beat of the song seems to mimic a heartbeat - the kind of heartbeat you get when you become nervous around someone you find attractive. Heavenly follows, which was released prior to album but in conjunction with the announcement of Cry. Gonzalez said that the song was inspired by how overwhelmed he felt when watching a sunset on a beach in Latvia over summer, but includes lines such as 'touch me with a kiss, feel me on your lips'. Even if the song is about a sunset, he is skillfully able to channel all the emotions he felt about it into what I presume is a declaration of love and sexuality.
You’re the Only Good Thing In My Life is in the middle of the album, and seems to be a marker for that stage you get to in a relationship where it becomes a bit rocky. This is evident even within the opening of the track - the vibe and melody are different, a lot slower and at a lower pitch. The lyrics compliment the low mood as Gonzalez sings 'you only fuck for love' and 'Everything is wrong but it’s all right… you’re the only good thing in my life'. It seems to encapsulate the period where the relationship is breaking down, but nevertheless it’s sometimes hard to overlook the good times.
'The underlying beat of the song seems to mimic a heartbeat - the kind of heartbeat you get when you become nervous around someone you find attractive'.
Touch is a continuation of You’re the Only Good Thing In My Life; the love story that's unfolding still seems to be on the rocks, but is slowly emerging into light again. Gonzalez sings 'It’s leading me on, every time we touch… leading me on, every time it hurts', seemingly referring to the heart-breaking stage when a relationship is over but the members of it still see each other. This track expertly captures that feeling of confusion when it happens.
Hentai follows; for those who don’t know, Hentai is a form of pornography, and the lyrics definitely match the title. The frontman sings 'I told you about the night that we first made love, about a girl who as soon as she made you cum, would show you the future and tell you your fortune', describing this alternative fantasy which doesn’t involve tentacles.
Cry is the next song on the album and describes a toxic relationship, continuing the theme of this love affair envisioned by the group. As the album begins to end, so does the relationship. Singing 'I swear I’ll only make you cry', it’s as if Gonzalez is attempting reconciliation; unfortunately, at this stage of the cinematic love affair, nothing is working. Falling In Love is the penultimate song on the album and seems to be a reminiscence about the whole plot which has unraveled before our ears.
Pure is the last song, and epitomsies the album as a whole. With lyrics such as 'as you take me in your mouth' and 'only your love could get me to fall', it has the mix of sexual passion and romantic feeling that has been poured into the whole album, as well as the dreamy melodies that Cigarettes After Sex do best.
This album can only be described through the plot that seems to slowly unfold as you listen to it. I have always been a massive fan of Cigarettes after Sex, and although Cry may be intensely sexual and not for the faint hearted, that can be forgiven because of the sound Cigarettes After Sex can distinctively produce. It cannot be denied that Greg Gonzalez wears his heart on his sleeve, and possibly his sex life too.