Some people make music that they take seriously, pouring every piece of themselves into its creation, and some create music for the sheer hell of it. Around this time last year, CYMBALS [Twitter/Facebook] were gearing up to release their debut album, Unlearn, whilst they were still figuring out how to write together. The result was a record which was very promising but still sounded like a band finding their feet. By that time, they’d already supported bands like Spector and Matt & Kim, so there was a sense that they’d barely even gotten off the ground.
Almost a year later, the band, their lineup having increased to four people last year, from the original three, return with a mini-album that was recorded on a boat. No, that wasn’t a typo. It fit perfectly with the group’s love of doing things differently, and it seems to have inspired them no end, as Sideways, Sometimes is everything that its predecessor was not. Gone is the charming naivety of the debut, replaced by a steely determination. The follow-up is imbued with the kind of confidence that can only be gleaned from experience.
Teaser track No Bad Decisions surpassed all their previous material in one glorious burst of intense psychedelic pop, and the progression heard across all 24 minutes of the album is such that one would be forgiven for thinking this was not the same CYMBALS who released Unlearn. In a way, it’s not. They’re a year older and wiser, and able to comment on the experience of being in a band, which they address on The Norms; they’ve had to ‘separate from the norms with the real jobs and wrecking the sleep patterns’, and it’s worked out nicely for them.
Interspersed with some wonderful instrumental snippets, all untitled and all relying heavily on keyboards – more of this please! – the mini-album benefits from an improved sense of structure and a shed-load of brilliant hooks; songs like It Makes Me Seriously and the superlative Candy Bar strike the perfect balance between the band’s sense of fun and their new-found songwriting chops, not to mention get stuck in the listener’s head very easily. This mini-album should come with an advisory sticker on its front sleeve: ‘Earworm Warning!’. These brilliant melodies, combined with tons of replay value, make Sideways, Sometimes one of the most important indie-pop releases of the year. To borrow from Intense Kids, where’d they get that confidence? We’re not sure, but damn, it suits them well.
Sideways, Sometimes is released this coming Saturday as part of Record Store Day (the regular vinyl edition’s sold out), and receives a regular release next Monday; pre-order via Tough Love Records.
No Bad Decisions: