Could you love me instead
Of all the boyfriends you got?
Cigarettes After Sex poses this question in “Don’t Let Me Go”, the second track of their new album Cry, pleading for an unseen lover to move on. To dismiss self-reflection, to ignore the red flags of relationships yet unbroken. To end it all for them. Redolent of the same denial, Greg Gonzalez, the band’s frontman and chief songwriter, returns to the same idealised image of romance in their second album. But is his denial any wrong? He croons for the beauty of his passions, shying away from the cerebral while drawing us into first loves. Poignantly based in this narrative, the songs allow us to identify with an all too common experience of being loved and loving in itself. Cry uniquely captures the same ethereal quality Cigarettes After Sex brought to their debut album and aspires for that same romanticism.
Yet the mournful bittersweet tidings of the album’s songs betray the cracks in the floating world that Gonzalez places love in. The lurid lyricism of songs suffers for the sake of a tune, which likewise falters in the tracks “You’re the Only Good Thing In My Life” or “Falling in Love”, resorting to mundane repetition to fill in for the lack of sentimentality. There are no references to the growing adoration “in buying perfume for each city that you visit” or the inevitable self-destruction of a relationship in “your lips, my lips, apocalypse”. The love that we are supposed to identify with is prosaic and too foreign to us — the band fails to ground without the beauty of a passionate love they introduced in their debut album.
And so it is. The cigarette burns, tobacco saccharine on our lips. We watch the curl of smoke listfully, languidly trailing into the air, an invisible vein on the stained white confines of a cheap motel room.
But the ash doesn’t fall.