Soft focus, post-coital pop that's more love-making than fucking
Jessie Atkinson
17:45 18th October 2019

Greg Gonzalez’s Cigarettes After Sex have gone soft focus with their second album Cry. A natural continuation from their self-titled debut, this cinematic turn moves their post-coital pop from Manhattan to Mallorca; fucking to love-making.

To the casual listener, the new Cigarettes After Sex album might not sound too different from the ambient first. There’s the gentle up and down slide of the ever-present bass guitar, the finger-picked pentatonic of the guitar and the sweet crooning of Gonzalez’s androgynous voice, all set in that aural world reminiscent of an echoing fire escape. Spend enough time with each though, and you’ll hear that plenty of anxiety and spite has been stripped away, leaving a record that could only have been made by someone truly, safely in love.

Like Cigarettes After Sex, Cry still lingers on limerent, often erotic moments: on ‘Kiss It Off Me’, Gonzalez sings: “I could see you were walking slow/drinking a slurpie,” while in ‘You’re the only Good Thing in My Life,’ he remembers (or imagines) his lover “posing as a Playboy centrefold.” On ‘Hentai’, the narrator conflates dreams of their lover with the hentai character they saw in a porn film.

Carnal, yes. But there’s less of the bitterness that appeared on earlier cuts like ‘John Wayne.’ Here, there’s a greater sense that Gonzalez has surrendered to the kind of love that seemed to evade him in LP1. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in standout single ‘Falling in Love’, in which a warm bed of electric guitars push Gonzalez’s declarations up onto a blissful plane on which lovers hold each other in rays of sunlight.

While retaining all of the carnal minimalism their fans love them for, Cigarettes After Sex have successfully applied it to fresh ideas within their singular remit. On ‘Touch’, ambient pop moves gently into a chorus that could blitz the charts on a more up-tempo track, while ‘Pure’ experiments with drum tempo, however delicately.

Cry sees Gonzalez, Jacob Tomsky and Randy Miller take the heady aphrodisiac of their debut and subtly reshape it: here, cynicism is drained away, guitars mix into a softer palette and Cigarettes After Sex finally know what it really means to fall in love.   

Cry is released on 25 October 2019 via Partisan Records.