Cymbals – The Age of Fracture
This London art-pop quartet follow their 2011 debut Unlearn by polishing the synth-heavy post-punk of that record into something glossier, but similarly melancholy and nostalgic. The Age of Fracture makes no attempt to hide its influences: it’s impossible to ignore the ghost of New Order’s post-modern pop in tracks like Winter ‘98, with its 80s synth-voice stabs; yet Jack Cleverly’s wistful vocals and the muted, reverb-laden guitar lines ensure the sound retains a distinctive edge.
The Age of Fracture partly accomplishes this through the ambition and complexity of the song structures: the 9-minute Like An Animal, for example, shifts through mournful, goth synthscapes before ultimately culminating in a haunting, disco-led climax. Another key element is the sharp, intricate sound, assisted by producer Dreamtrak (Hot Chip). Collectively, these dual qualities raise Cymbals above the masses of identikit synthpop revivalists; Fracture sounds like an outfit dreamily distracted by the past, rather than overwhelmed. [Sam Wiseman]