On their first North America tour, London-based CYMBALS ventures to the West Coast, playing five concerts from Los Angeles to Vancouver, BC, showcasing their stylishly refined sythn-pop at Bunk Bar July 25. The tour is the first opportunity Portland gets to experience being transported to everything revered about 80s synth-pop. CYMBALS are thinking listener’s synth-pop, not your glossy MTV spéciale de la journée.
Featuring tracks form their latest full length album released in February, The Age of Fracture, CYMBALS derived their inspiration from author Daniel T. Rodgers' book of the same title, where the former Princeton professor delved into the fragmentation of ideas towards the end of the last century, and how collective meanings have become uncertain.
Early this year at a lecture given at Yale University, Rodgers discussed how technology has played a key role in creating this fragmented social reality, and explained the emergence of a powerful free market in which rationality was championed. Rodgers said, “But rationality isn’t so rational in the context of life,” also adding that this is one of the ironies of the “Age of Fracture.”
And so inspired was singer and guitarist Jack Cleverly, explaining in the CYMBALS’ bio: “It hit me that I often feel paralyzed by the feeling that everything is ‘too complicated’, and that many people I know feel that paralysis. I realized that this way of thinking can be traced through these songs.”
The Age of Fracture is a refined effort that displays a clear, bright sound that leans towards the European sophistication of the end-of-the-century French house Cleverly grew up with. The 11-tracks cover a range of emotion but sticks closely to the isolation themes presented in ‘The Age of Fracture’.
Bolstered by a strong 80s synth-driven influence, Cleverly guides the band from the sleek, late night imagery in the lead track, Winter ’98, and is the inspired musical thread that weaves indelibly through the songs The Age of Fracture, Like An Animal, and The End. Each track delivers its own sentiment, taking the listener on riding rhythms that vacillate between night club dance grooves and prowling struts with alluring invitations that seductively draw you in.
The other side CYMBALS’ explores is the more straight forward pop approach of The Natural World, Your Are, The 5%, and Erosion. Each track explores different facets of the modern, technical environment that seemingly has equal power to unite and isolate simultaneously.
CYMBALS bring the album to a graceful conclusion on The City. With it’s subtle pop beat questioning isolation as a way of life, it wants to draw humanity out from under a desk and out into the open. Next, The End is a dreamy escape into the after hours relaxation. Its artfully crafted video is a sleek, late night time-lapsed voyeuristic escape of activities in a 24 hour period. The ending track, Call Me, sedately ends the album as a somber reprise that slips effortlessly down stream.
In an age of fracture and continuing technical advances and observations, CYMBALS’ stylistically captures events and ideas in tightly composed musical nuances that are thoughtful, playful and reflective. Cleverly and company come to bring it all to real life at Bunk Bar on July 25th.
Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 day of show // Get tickets. Doors open at 9:30, show at 10:30, 21 and over.