Cycles was Frank Sinatra's first full-fledged pop/rock-oriented album, concentrating on a more orchestrated variation on the popular folk-rock of the late '60s. The foundation of the arrangements on Cycles are guitars, bass, and drum kits, all played gently and unobtrusively; the strings are layered on top of the pop rhythm section. Appropriately, Sinatra sang a variety of material associated with folk-rock, particularly Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" and Glen Campbell's "Gentle on My Mind" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." Sinatra responds to the softer material by phasing out most of the edginess in his phrasing. He doesn't sing with the nuanced textures of his Jobim albums -- he is simply restrained. That doesn't result in an embarrassing album, yet Cycles isn't the successful rock and traditional pop fusion that it might have been. Some of the material isn't well-suited for Sinatra -- neither "Little Green Apples" or "Pretty Colors" sound convincing -- but the main problem is with Don Costa's arrangements and production. There simply isn't enough variety to sustain interest throughout the course of the short, ten-song album. Certain sections work well, particularly the Glen Campbell numbers, but there isn't anything distinctive about the record, which makes it one of the weakest albums Sinatra ever released.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine