The sleepy, ambient pop of Brooklyn's Cigarettes After Sex found an unexpected flush of viral success in 2016 when the group's already four-year-old song, "Nothing's Gonna Hurt You Baby," started putting up massive eight-digit streaming numbers on YouTube. The project of Texas native Greg Gonzalez, Cigarettes After Sex's noir-ish imagery and languid odes to romantic obsession made them seem like unlikely candidates for such contemporary pop culture peaks, but the song and subsequent 2017 debut album nonetheless found a very receptive audience. Although the band's roots stretch back to 2008, their follow-up, Cry, is only their second full-length release and more or less follows the faded glamor of its predecessor. Like a method actor slipping easily into character, Gonzalez took his sensual slowcore to sea, renting a mansion on the Spanish Balearic island of Mallorca as his next studio. With the gently hissing surf-and-sun-baked limestone cliffs as their backdrop, he and bandmates Randall Miller (bass), Phillip Tubbs (keyboards), and Jacob Tomsky (drums) recorded nine gentle, often improvised pieces of music to which Gonzalez added lyrics at a later date. Cry is nothing if not cinematic and, as its creator has indicated, is indelibly linked to its place of origin. Listening to the opioid strains of "Don't Let Me Go" or "You're the Only Good Thing in My Life," it's easy to picture the lovelorn indie playboy gazing wistfully from a marbled balcony out into the sea's infinite expanse. As a writer, Gonzalez has cited Richard Brautigan and Leonard Cohen as influences, though his references to Japanese animated porn ("Hentai") and "all of those rich fuckboys" ("Kiss It Off Me") feel purely millennial. Musically, the song structures are uncomplicated and rely heavily on lush textures and mood-setting (foreplay, essentially) which is what Cigarettes After Sex seem to do best. Aside from a few monochromatic shades, there's not a lot of variance here and each track arrives at its four- or five-minute terminus at roughly the same languorous pace. For a project based on amorous and sensual pleasures, Cigarettes After Sex feels a little too one-dimensional.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger