By Christopher Nosnibor
The third album from NYC noisemongers, and the follow-up to the sprawling epic that was Manic Children and the Slow Aggression is compressed to a mere eight tracks. I say ‘mere’ as if it’s somehow lacking in something, or is a short album, somehow incomplete or abridged. Hardly. More than half of those tracks have a running time of five minutes or more, and if anything, they’re really ratcheted up the intensity. Yes, really.
The album starts as it means to go on: ‘Broad Daylight’ blasts from the speakers, explosive riffage and yelled vocals. It’s old-school hardcore punk, only with a big jazzy mid-section that’s big on boogie and of course builds to a thunderous climax. Oh yeah: there are just two guys in Cinema Cinema, for those who are unfamiliar with one of America’s hardest-gigging bands. You’d be forgiven for not realising this by ear alone: their sound is as dense as any power trio.
Whatever changes they’ve rung since their last album, one thing remains core to Cinema Cinema’s song writing: it’s still all about the riff. Heavy rock tropes played hard, then smashed to oblivion with squalls of noise and changes of tempo. Pulverizing drumming dives like a juggernaut. Ev Gold pushes his vocal chords through node-inducing contortions.
‘Decades’ provides something of a nod to classic rock with a pop edge, but of course it’s played in an authentic punk style, and ‘Minute’ is perhaps the band’s most accessible tune to date. Yes, it actually has a tune: a nagging guitar and melody, and everything, including hints of Pavement’s wonky pop noise. A sign of growing maturity, on the songwriting front perhaps? Well, perhaps: ‘Now I’m thirty fucking threeeeeeeeeeeeeee!’ yowls Ev. If the ageing process bothers him, he’s not about to accept it and settle down with a pipe and slippers.
‘Boxcutter’ marks a change of pace and brings some lightness to proceedings. These things are all relative, of course, and there are some explosive moments, howls of anguish. ‘2010’ is a proper driving rock number. It’s all about excess and overdrive, building in classic style to a monster climax and dying in a long straining wall of feedback.
The experimental passages ‘Gowanus Ghost’ – before it goes Butthole Surfers play Sabbath, and again before it goes Latina – reminds us that they’re by no means a straightforward rock band. Likewise the sprawling nine-minute closer, ‘Shiner No 4’, a counterpart to the previous album’s experimental behemoth ‘Shiner No 3’ is a brain-bending sonic journey that despite its length avoids falling into proggy indulgence and remains as punk as it gets and sees Cinema Cinema emerge from the brawling racket victorious.
A Night at the Fights is released by The Lumiere Label