It was almost an impossible task this week, picking one album to highlight in a sea of great new releases. Touché Amoré, Mikky Blanco, Preoccupations, AlunaGeorge, Mac Miller and Usher all released albums that have their fair share of redeemable moments, some more than others. But the album that hit me hardest is the newest from New Jersey’s own Cymbals Eat Guitars, the collective’s fourth studio album and quite possibly their most pristine, affirming moment yet. Pretty Years is fiery yet inviting, jagged yet hook-filled.
“Finally” opens things with a lonely guitar riff that sounds like a Rolling Stones relic before the explosions in the sky occur, guitars raining down on top of Joseph D’Agostino’s surprisingly nuanced, controlled vocals. Things only go up from there – “Have a Heart” has more hooks than most songs you’ll hear on Top 40 radio, “Wish” is as proficient a rock song I’ve heard this year – resulting in one of the year’s defining rock albums. “Dancing Days” is their lighters-in-the-air moment, D’Agostino letting go of the past – those dancing days – without knowing quite what’s taking their place. Pretty Years wears its heart on its sleeve, and its openheartedness could be a lot to digest. But the album is not all doom. Near the end of the album, a ray of light appears in the form of “Well.” “I think I need help, I want to be well,” admits D’Agostino before a raucous guitar solo and harmonic “ooh”‘s give you the feeling for the first time that he just might.
Pretty Years is out now.