Ambient-pop collective Cigarettes After Sex brought their melancholic melodies to the Paste studio last week to perform songs from their self-titled debut LP, which was released earlier this month on Partisan Records.
Frontman Greg Gonzalez, a Brooklyn transplant via El Paso, Texas, was joined by synth player Phillip Tubbs to play “Sunsetz,” “K.” and “Apocalypse,” with the three tracks serving as samples of the overarching theme of Cigarettes After Sex: pure, bittersweet romance. The record sets the mood instantly and never strays from it, keeping the lights dimmed and the same candle shining for as long as it takes the flame to burn out. Slow-motion synths and softly plucked guitars draw the focus to Gonzalez’s sweet vocals, sharing anecdotes so honest and photographic that a listener experiences his nostalgia with him.
“The records that hit me the deepest were these records that kind of just have one mood for them the whole time. It’s not really eclectic, it’s just this mood that you get and it kind of just puts you in the right place the whole time. You don’t get out of it, it just stays that way.”
Maintaining a consistent vibe on the record was a deliberate choice, noted Gonzalez. “I think the records that hit me the deepest were these records that kind of just have one mood for them the whole time; it’s not really eclectic.” He cited records such as Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and Francoise Hardy’s La Question as inspirations for his record’s cohesiveness. “It’s just this mood that you get and it kind of just puts you in the right place the whole time. You don’t get out of it, it just stays that way.”
Gonzalez’s recording methods also lend his music that intimate, calming feel. His 2012 EP, I., was recorded in a stairway at his alma mater, the University of Texas-El Paso. After moving to New York, Gonzalez found a similar location to record the new album’s second track, “Each Time You Fall in Love.” “It was actually a stairway at a movie theater that Phillip and I used to work at on the Upper East Side,” he said. “We had keys to the place, so we just snuck in overnight, kind of risking getting caught by security or something. We’ll just go into a location and just try things out.”
Watch Cigarettes After Sex perform “Sunsetz,” “K.” and “Apocalypse” in the player below. You can also listen to their debut, self-titled LP here and find information on tour dates here.