Cigarettes After Sex’s Romantic Dreampop Makes the Case for Quality Over Quantity

They’ve only released seven songs in four years, and each song is a lovely little gem in its own right. Even the REO Speedwagon cover.
Cigarettes After Sex
Cigarettes After Sex’s Greg Gonzalez (Marion Doucet)

The name Cigarettes After Sex may imply music that’s all about love’s tawdry side, as Greg Gonzalez sings sordid tales of desire, heartache, and… well… sex à la At Swim Two Birds or Arab Strap. However, quite the opposite is true. Sure, the relationship described in the band’s latest single, “K,” begins as sex “with no strings attached,” However, by the song’s end, Gonzalez is singing “Holding you until you fall asleep and it’s just as good as I knew it would be.”

Gonzalez is apparently quite the unapologetic romantic. For another artist, the song’s lyrics — e.g., “I’m kissing you lying in my room/Holding you until you fall asleep” — might come off as sappy. But there’s a restraint and (dare I say) shyness about both Gonzalez’s unassuming vocals and the music’s sparse-yet-dreamy atmospherics that makes “K” poignant rather than prurient.

Word of warning, though: If you find yourself falling head over heels for Cigarettes After Sex’s music, you might be a bit taken aback when you size up their discography. The Brooklyn-based group isn’t exactly what you’d call “prolific.” Since 2012, Gonzalez and his collaborators have only released seven songs across three releases (and two of those songs were covers).

Gonzalez et al. are clearly believers in quality over quantity, though. All seven songs are lovely little gems in their own right, and maintain a consistent allure that easily spans those four years — even when the song in question is a cover of REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You.”

Fortunately, Cigarettes After Sex’s paucity of material is coming to an end in 2017, when they’ll release a full-length album on Partisan Records. In the meantime, the band’s currently on a short European tour.