The Age of Fracture is the second album from London group CYMBALS. Whilst they debuted with an album of angular art-rock that recalled early Talking Heads - and certainly had the raw quality to match - for their follow-up they aimed to drop the pretensions and record an album that was inherently fun. The spiky guitars have been softened and the synthesisers brought to the fore.

Now their second album sees the band veering much closer to dance-punk, with a sound reminiscent of Hot Chip and Metronomy. This is certainly evident on opening track 'Winter '98' with its vocoder-esque synthesiser and house beat melded with sharp, funky guitar chords. It has retained some of that rawness of their debut, sounding almost like a live recording in the initial couple of minutes with audience murmuring played in the background until the main beat kicks in around the 3 minute mark. It's a catchy number and manages to plug itself directly in your memory - give it a listen and you can already see yourself dancing like a fool to it when festival season rolls around. The name itself, 'Winter '98' is a clue that this song is trying to play with your nostalgia.

'The Natural World', which was the lead single, does a similar thing, recalling the melodies and themes of the songs that would regularly close indie discos. Its steady bass line (eerily similar to the intro to Little Dragon's 'Ritual Union') is combined with sharp synth stabs in the chorus and muted guitar riffs in the verses. The lyrics, which seem to deal with the ennui around relationships, "I don't know enough about you / to be kind to you" and "we can hear the passing of time / and the sound of us in your mind," are sung with the sort of enthusiasm that belies their rather bleak outlook.

CYMBALS manage to continue this ability to craft catchy dance punk songs throughout the album and in the latter half of the album manage to surpass themselves with their use of melody and interesting new sounds. 'The Fracture of Age', whilst only a little longer than a minute is a beautiful piece of chiming and swirling synthesisers that flows into 'Like An Animal' perfectly, the synthesisers fading away to a steady four to the floor beat and detuned guitars that initially sound like ticking clocks.

'Like An Animal' is perhaps the album's high-point. An almost 9 minute workout that starts in a rather melancholic manner, but as the song progresses, those muted guitars get funkier and the booming drums give way to an electronic drum machine and euphoric keys. It then goes through several changes. Back to guitar-led melancholy for the lyrics "Look after me like an animal / no-ones looking no-one cares," than back to the DFA influenced dance-punk and further on to a dance floor freakout in the track's final moments. In lesser hands it could have all fallen apart, but CYMBALS manage to control the track incredibly well, building up the song where appropriate and knowing when to bring things down or strip instruments out in order to tease us with what's to come next.

A shame that it's followed by 'Erosion', which is possibly the album's weakest moment. A chaotic attempt at '80s new-wave (there's a heavy smattering of Joy Division inspiration here) that's mixed so that every instrument, including the vocals are battling for attention leaving a song that lacks any kind of discernible hook and soon disappears from memory once the track is over.

It's not the only flaw with The Age of Fracture either. 'The 5%' is another track which suffers from too much jostling for attention and in the chorus the band seem to lose control of the music completely. It also doesn't help that lead singer has a voice which sometimes becomes a little grating, particularly on 'Erosion' and 'The 5%' where he sings in a high pitched whine. There's also a sense that whilst an undoubtedly fun album, CYMBALS aren't really offering anything new. Their sound feels a little dated, especially when you consider the amount of bands who just a few years ago were producing very similar material. Yet, they show promise and in their final song 'Call Me' show a more introspective side with Vangelis style synthesisers over reverberated guitars. It's a wordless finale, perhaps because they've nothing else to say except that The Age of Fracture is here; now it's time for you to decide if you want to be a part of it.