Album Review: Cymbals Eat Guitars – Pretty Years


cymbalseatguitars-prettyyearsCymbals Eat Guitars vocalist Joe D’Agostino has lived a lifetime of sleazy memories, and he’s here to tell us all about them. Luckily, that turns out to be an extremely good thing, as D’Agostino loads his slices of life with achingly authentic details and emotions. If Pretty Years could be said to have a theme, the constant idea permeating this record is the juxtaposition of the person you are at present with the person you used to be. Album opener “Finally” finds D’Agostino bemoaning the “settling down” of a subject who used to “light up a room.” Though the titular “Pretty Years” of the record suffer the fate of all memories and become glossed over and idealized, Pretty Years also makes it pretty clear that some things are better left in the past. “4th of July, Philadelphia(SANDY)” chronicles an ill-fated and very nearly tragic summer day that forces the narrator to “be present and grateful for every second.”

However, the narrator immediately admits that even this potential character-building event was wasted on his youthful self. The adrenaline of the moment and the promise to live life differently ultimately fade as soon as a young person focuses on something shiny. These are only truths to be realized later. The group has been around for six-or-so years by this point, and luckily D’Agostino and his bandmates maintain a healthy distance from the troubled subjects of the songs. However, despite growing up a little, there is still a perverse pleasure to be derived from those jagged and unpredictable days. “Have a Heart” plainly states that we all “Get off on memories of things we did when we were young and evil.”

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Though the album doesn’t travel too far from this basic subject matter, the band possesses enough versatility to keep things swiftly moving throughout. Whether the group is channeling Bends-era Radiohead on a lower-tempo track like “Dancing Days,” or absolutely burning down the room with standout rocker “Beam” (which also boasts one of the most powerful screams that I have heard in ten years or so), Cymbals have delivered their best record to date. We’ll be revisiting this one come December.


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