With album soon in Vienna

Cigarettes After Sex: melancholy in midsummer

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11.07.2024 09:00

Five years after their last album "Cry", the depressive dream pop combo Cigarettes After Sex are back with the concept album "X's". Gloomy dark romance meets relationship melancholy in midsummer. The live date is better timed: On November 3, the trio is coming to the Wiener Stadthalle.

A large part of success in show business is down to the right timing. Music that seems arbitrary can quickly become a top seller if you hit the zeitgeist or strike the right note at the right moment. Greg Gonzalez, on the other hand, can tell you a thing or two about how it doesn't work. The son of a video distributor from El Paso in Texas grew up with thousands of video cassettes behind him and was obsessed early on with the question of how a person with an affinity for music could write a song in such a way that it fired the listener's imagination and wafted through the ear canals in the most cinematic way possible. When he released the EP "I." with his band Cigarettes After Sex in 2012, disillusionment followed hot on his heels. Nobody was interested in his romantic slowcore and the project seemed to sink before it even set sail.

Through the roof
It wasn't until 2016 that the single "Nothing's Gonna Hurt You Baby" suddenly went viral, and with the single "Apocalypse" released in 2017, Gonzalez and his bandmates finally broke through the roof. The song has since been streamed billions of times and over the years, people have always wondered whether the voice behind the soft sounding gems belongs to a lady in need of love or a eunuch. Gonzalez's delicate timbre was only ridiculed at first, but over the years it has become an unmistakable trademark alongside the melancholy music, which mixes melancholic dream pop with much more sadness, slowcore and shoegaze elements, conjuring up a hybrid culinary style not yet heard in this form.

Gonzalez himself raves about his idols, such as Françoise Hardy, Miles Davis and the Cocteau Twins, to whom he comes closer than ever before on his third album. This brings us back to the topic of timing mentioned at the beginning: the new album "X's", an almost 40-minute long mourning palette full of melancholy and depressive edge, sees the light of day in mid-July. At a time when we don't know exactly whether we should go to the nearest outdoor pool and ice cream parlor or simply burn to death in the sweltering heat. Apart from the questionable timing of the release, you shouldn't be put off by the content either. Even if the tonality might suggest that this is a manual on how to slit wrists correctly - Gonzalez is a romantic with a penchant for enraptured wickedness.

Atmosphere and mysticism
A whole five years have passed since the predecessor "Cry" and "X's". In between, there was a pandemic that allowed few live opportunities - yet the band grew bigger and bigger. In today's inscrutable media jungle, all it took was a few clever placements on TikTok and Cigarettes After Sex became a band of the moment, touring the entire world from the end of summer until 2025 and stopping off at the most lavish venues - in Vienna, for example, they no longer do it under the Stadthalle. Gonzalez and co already showed the first signs of wear and tear on "Cry" and sometimes failed due to the fact that it is not so easy to reproduce the successful formulas of the early hits in a cosmos with a very narrow sound. Furthermore, music videos and any form of coloration were dispensed with. The sound paradise of the New Yorkers-by-choice is all about atmosphere and mysticism.

The sinister dark romanticism of the two previous albums has been effortlessly retained, and on "X's" Gonzalez conceptually processes the separation from his partner after four and a half years of relationship in ten different song chapters. According to Gonzalez about the album, it was only through the musical realization of the subject matter that he was able to reflect, rethink and ultimately come to terms with the break-up. As usual, the album makes use of a mixture of open, at times explicit lyrics and a burdening sound rhythm that is best enjoyed with a hot cup of tea, protected from a chilly winter storm. Between the personally tinged songs such as "Tejano Blue", "Dark Vacay" or "Baby Blue Movie", the variety lies in the details. Gonzalez' voice seems a little more masculine and darker in direct comparison to his predecessors, but musically there is no attempt to make a big change.

Live in Vienna's Stadthalle
With "X's", the Cigarettes After Sex have achieved a notable success in their narrowly defined genre, but in terms of composition it does not distance itself far enough from its predecessors and in its weaker parts it is reminiscent of a copy of their own best achievements. On November 3, Cigarettes After Sex come to the Wiener Stadthalle - at a much more appropriate time of year - with the new album and the hits of recent years. Tickets for this concert highlight are still available at www.ticketmaster.at. If you want to have a good cry - you've come to the right place!

This article has been automatically translated,
read the original article here.

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