bark118 · CD / DIGITAL / LP · Barsuk Records · August 2011
At its core, Lenses Alien is a marriage of classic pop forms and ambient haze that makes for a stark, dusky psychedelia. Joseph D’Agostino’s vocals, now with support from keyboardist Brian Hamilton and bassist Matthew Whipple, sit daringly at the forefront, and his lyrics are dark, strange, and affecting as ever. Drummer Matt Miller and Whipple move the songs as a singular, powerful unit while ornate guitars and Hamilton’s celestial organ and chiming pianos whirl across the sonic landscape. Songs like "Definite Darkness" and "Keep Me Waiting" move with the frenetic urgency of romance that seemingly begins and ends all at once, and "Secret Family" and "Wavelengths" combine Motown-esque turns with impressionistic visions of lost youth and the struggle to retain it. A relentlessly complex listen, Lenses Alien strikes a balance between the archaic and the inviting and is as much a document of doubts and contradictions as of irreverent joy. It's a varied collection of songs that feels handmade built from the ground up and it's precisely the album Cymbals Eat Guitars was built to make.