New York band Cymbals Eat Guitars sound a bit like Pavement. Had Joseph D'Agostino put as much effort into aping Stephen Malkmus's voice as he done his music Lenses Alien could almost be called a lost Pavement album. It's not really quite as good, but it's pretty hard to ape perfection perfectly so I think we'll let them off the hook.
That out the way, it has to be said that considered a band aside from their influences Cymbals Eat Guitars are pretty good. There are enough juicy hooks, and plenty of distorted lo-fi charm to carry them though. There are smatterings of a identity forming, aside from the Pavement comparison there is the occasional noise rock influence and the odd feeling that the band are trying to do their own thing.
So, an album of base indie rock lo-fi charms. It's never quite that simple, and CEG have more to them. Firstly, it's not all so pleasant and unchallenging. This is not a happy summers day album, but rather one that constantly jars and forces you to sit up and take notice of it. Occasionally this is a good thing. Clashes between melodies, and sudden rises in distortion and noise mean the album has both musical and sonic intrecacies that should keep the serious listener happy. However, sometimes this attempt at complexity fails and Lenses Alien ends up sounding unpleasant and jarring. The band could do with occasionally allowing the music to take the back seat and giving the listener time to relax. As it currently stands Lenses Alien is a very tiring listen. There is always something going on, one little intricacy grabbing at your attention, and every so often it gets a little bit too much.
If this were a Pavement album, it would definitely be one of their slightly more challenging later works. The band have never shot for the easy pleasant song they could so clearly write. There are enough brilliant little hooks, and overlapping melodies here to suggest at a very nice little album lying underneath. Where Cymbals Eat Guitars fail is in their attempt to do something more. Every so often it pays off, but all too often we're left with something slightly confusing and annoying. A good album, but by no means perfect.