A lot of pop music today wants to set the mood for a hot and heavy night — choose any song on the soundtrack for “50 Shades of Grey” — but Cigarettes After Sex offers something for the after. As the name of the band suggests, their slow and ambient music extends the blissful few moments when the real problems of the world haven’t yet returned and the entire universe feels like only two people.
Their 2012 EP, I., promised sexy, meditative music for the future. “Dreaming of You” had simple reverb synth chords mixed with bold hi-hats and cymbals. The subtle lyrics left room to fill in the blanks: “You’re the one calling out / you’re the one that’s calling me to heaven.”
After a 5 year hiatus, Cigarettes After Sex returned last year with a debut self-titled album that hinted at the catastrophe to come and deterioration of the band’s signature allure. Most of the songs on their 2017 album retained what made the EP so sensual and such easy listening. But the last track, the explicit-rated “Young and Dumb,” marked a misunderstanding of the band’s best qualities.
The lyrics on the track try hard to evoke lust, but end up too straightforward and very cringe-worthy as lead vocalist, Greg Gonzalez, sings, “You are a patron saint of sucking cock.” Dear God, why would you write that?
The newest single from Cigarettes After Sex, “Crush,” unfortunately follows the example of “Young and Dumb.”
“Crush” begins with potential as Gonzalez uses his restrained and high voice — a whisper on the verge of a scream — to the band’s advantage in combination with pure, but suggestive, lyrics like, “photographs you sent / of you lying in your swimsuit on the bed.” Then the chorus begins and destroys the seductive vibe established in the opening verse when Gonzales sings repeatedly, “I wanna fuck your love slow.”
“Crush” proves Cigarettes After Sex has un-learned the lesson they taught the music world in their initial EP: Sexiness is not found in explicitness.