by Ryan Casey
As might be expected from an EP recorded in the space of just five days on a boat moored in the Thames, London-based CYMBALS’ latest release ‘Sideways, Sometimes’ certainly doesn’t lack in flow.
There is an album-like coherence to the release – the follow up to last year’s ‘Unlearn’ – most of which can be attributed to the three untitled interludes. The first of which is mellow, mysterious, and foreshadowing of the New Order-esque opening track, ‘No Bad Decisions’. The electronic dominance of the instrumental opener blends with and undercuts the song, while jangling guitars and yelping vocals take the front seat. It is a strong opener, setting a high bar for the rest of the EP to follow.
‘It Makes Me Seriously’ finds the band in more laid-back territory, and will undoubtedly appeal to fans of Metronomy. The synths and bassline are staggeringly reminiscent of material on the band’s latest release, ‘The English Riviera’, but that is certainly not to the song’s detriment: ‘The English Riviera’ was, in this writer’s humble opinion, one of the finest releases of 2011, perfectly capturing the feel of a British holiday. The more like this, the merrier.
CYMBALS experiment more with this formula in ‘Candy Bar’, a song that also boasts a Metronomy-esque allure. One of the most charming things about this EP is the subtle utilisation of electronics, the synths never quite becoming the forefront of this track initially, but providing a very important accompaniment as the track progresses.
The later tracks on the EP – not including the brilliant and mysterious interludes, which continue to add depth and continuity – do not quite match the dizzy heights of the early stages. ‘The Norms’ attempts to pick up the tempo again, but is not quite as catchy as what has come before to work its way into one’s head. ‘Intense Kids’, on the other hand aims for a New Order-esque sound but actually ends up more early Bloc Party, the lead vocalist’s wide-ranging vocals in the chorus striking a sense of uncanny within the listener. And this is probably where the EP does not quite match up to last year’s album: whereas on ‘Unlearn’, CYMBALS’ attempts at embracing New Order as a primary influence were successful, the same attempts are not quite as convincing this time round.
On a whole though, CYMBALS must be complimented for creating a coherent EP in ‘Sideways, Sometimes’, with a significant amount of charm. It might not the most original release you’ll hear all year, or as rewarding as their album, ‘Unlearn’, but for five day’s labour on a boat, it is a carefully crafted and well-produced treat for fans to nourish the amounting hunger between this album and the next.