Cigarettes After Sex

Cigarettes After Sex


Manchester’s Deaf Institute is buried deep within Adriatic blue. The over-sized disco-ball that hangs from the ceiling is projecting stars and things, viciously everywhere and purblind, across the spectrum of turquoise. With eyes shut, Greg Gonzalez, leader of Cigarettes After Sex and purveyor of hypnogogic bliss, walks into this unknown – suspended in the shade of half-remembered dream dialogue. The El Paso native leans into the microphone and proposes a question: “Starry eyes, how can I get you?” – cocooning the room in a slow-burn velvet-death that both achingly reveals as much as it elementally abstracts.

2015’s ‘K.’ paints flowers across the walls – un-bloomed and ready to collapse into some kind of forever as Gonzalez’s voice, gentle and geographic black, offers an account of a love sheltered by addictive, self-contained obsession. Gonzalez makes effort to introduce the soon-to-be released, unpolluted sky of ‘Sunsetz’, and with the introduction of the title alone comes the weight of expectation that trying to capture such overtly romantic imagery naturally invites, but as the first notes of the song collide and disband, you feel the patience of dusk and the weight that can only be drawn from living inside a moment for too long. REO Speedwagon’s 80s soft-rock mainstay ‘Keep On Loving You’ sees Gonzalez drawing out the mournful nature that’s hidden at the song’s core and retreating leathers to the luminary – finding space between the devotion and desperation to step away from himself and sway monochrome in the light. In this moment, against the oxycodone silk, Gonzalez is bulletproof.

Cut from ‘Affection’, Cigarettes After Sex’s second release – born out of an afternoon of accidents and experiments, the half-apology of the same name suspends the room in stasis, as illusions of being called to heaven on unreality heart-breaker ‘Dreaming of You’ break and effervesce. Concertina painkiller ‘Nothings Gonna Hurt You Baby’  closes the slow-dance evening – carrying heavy premonitions of love and loss that sees the audience spellbound and reliving their own experiences of such things as memory centres fill with heavy, whispered fog. It’s clear, as lamp-light bass runs up and down the spine of transcendental chrysanthemum-pop, Cigarettes After Sex have created a space where, at least for a moment or two, you can go back and save the sweetness you couldn’t find the first time around.

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James Musker

Music Journalism student and lover of all things sensory and cosmic.