Staten Island indie quartet Cymbals Eat Guitars first made waves with their 2009 self-released debut, Why There Are Mountains. The band's sound drew comparisons to some of the champions of '90s indie rock, with lead singer Joseph D'Agostino's yelpy delivery and dizzying take on guitar pop instantly reminding gleeful fans of the heights bands like Modest Mouse and Built to Spill reached in their glory days. The slightly more experimental 2011 follow-up Lenses Alien opened some doors for Lose, the band's third album and another painstakingly constructed patchwork of colorful indie influences. Still present is the band's expansive approach to sound, with each of Lose's nine tracks stretching out into the same type of lingering thoughtfulness that made Built to Spill's epic guitar workouts so all-consuming. Also stronger than ever is the group's proclivity for shiny pop, especially on tracks such as the romping "Warning." D'Agostino's voice guides many of the songs, sounding like a strange hybrid between Jawbreaker/Jets to Brazil voicebox Blake Schwarzenbach's rasp and Conor Oberst's distinctive warble. These elements of Cymbals Eat Guitars' formula are in fine form, but what makes Lose stand out as a step forward is its amount of stylistic experimentation. "XR" bounds with an almost D.I.Y. folk fervor, busting out of the gates with bright harmonica and an upbeat country-punk shuffle beat. Twinkling piano and pseudo-classical chamber pop instrumentation make up the soft-hearted "Child Bride," and elsewhere the bandmembers dip their toes into space rock haziness, long-winded repetitive jamming, and even '80s blue-collar guitar rock and Prince-like falsetto vocals. By the waltzing final track, "2 Hip Soul," Cymbals Eat Guitars have tried on multiple hats without ever completely losing the core elements that have always defined them. Lose becomes a rewarding listen in no small part because of these stylistic diversions and the way the different parts fit together into an interesting, forward-moving whole.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas