Cigarettes After Sex is a band that is known to me but I wasn`t quite sure of what their musical genre was. After a quick search I discovered that the band, Greg Gonzalez, Randall Miller, and Jacob Tomsky are renowned for their ethereal, obsessive and often dream-like musical style with touches of shoegaze, slowcore and indie rock. They release their third album `X`s` this month which frontman for the band Gregory Steven Gonzalez based around the loss of a four-year relationship.

The album opens with the title track `X`s` a delightfully dreamy number that has gentle wavering guitar chord riffs with a guiding drumbeat and bassline with Gregory`s androgynous vocals sprinkled atop. The lyrics almost seemed like a cleansing stream of consciousness. There`s further musical abstraction with `Tejano Blue` which was inspired by Gonzalez’s life in his hometown El Paso, Texas. An introspective offering about lustful adolescent encounters reflected over a temperate rhythmic beat that becomes delightfully hypnotic.

`Silver Sable` is a quite melancholic number that appears to hint towards a plea to keep a relationship going while realising that it`s probably runs its course. I read that `Hideaway` focuses on a specific moment in Gonzalez’s life, when he and his girlfriend went to a beach near Marina Del Ray, California to let their problems fade away. A number that is personal and intimate and felt like a brief glimpse into the writer`s inner vulnerabilities.

`Holding You, Holding Me` has a faster pace and is led by a guiding bassline and tapped percussion with vocals that are scattered over in a wonderfully compelling style. We have in `Dark Vacay` a composition that is about someone Gonzalez fell in love with a long time ago and how they fell apart while travelling through Europe, eventually breaking up. Another tender captivating arrangement.

Although `Baby Blue Movie` is a reference to softcore pornography it didn`t appear seedy or unsavoury and had some charmingly sophisticated guitar grooves and soft hand percussion that really draws you in. The vocals on `Hot` are utterly sublime and suggest an pressing ache or hurt deep within the narrator.

`Dreams From Bunker Hill` seems to be a reminiscence of happier romantic times that have been triggered recalling a trip to the site of a battle during the American Revolutionary War in Boston. The album closes with `Ambien Slide` which may refer a condition endured by a drug taken to treat insomnia but could also be a metaphor as to how the narrator felt after his relationship ended. A final hazy ambient submission.

`X`s` is an intense album both musically and lyrically with many delightful slow burn dream pop songs that feel almost overwhelming at times. It is powerful, passionate and potent both musically and lyrically and will need several listens before it really crystalises.

A deeply personal and intimate offering that i`m sure must have been cleansing and cathartic for the singer to not only write but share.

Rating 8.5/10

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