Gig review: Cigarettes After Sex at Leeds University Stylus

Cigarettes After Sex. Picture: Ebru Yildiz
Cigarettes After Sex. Picture: Ebru Yildiz
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The somewhat oddly named Cigarettes After Sex arrived gently into the public’s consciousness (although given the style of music, subconscious would be more accurate) when their debut EP suddenly and inexplicably sprung into life online. The Texan band produce a dreamy, wavering and subdued brand of pop rock, The XX without the DJ, a darker Cocteau Twins with drums and guitars heavily set on echo.

There is no support act, the set barely breaks the hour mark and the stage set is a simple monochrome affair backed by excerpts from classic (black and white, obviously) films, complementing the band’s entirely black attire. Since the initial EP, the eponymous debut album has been released to virtually wholesale positive reviews, and rightly so.

Whilst the music drifts along like walking through the onscreen gentle snowstorm that greets the band onstage, there is a strong robustness to the bass and drums that provide the perfect foil for atmospheric guitars.

Set opener Sweet sets the tone, a beautiful track recently released as the new single, morphs gently into Every Time You Fall in Love and then Young and Dumb, all filling the captivated venue with an atmosphere that is transfixed on the soundwaves bouncing round the room. There is no moshpit being formed this evening.

Sunsetz is a stunning album highlight and so it proves again here. The band ensures REO Speedwagon’s Keep on Loving You conforms to their own languid pace before bringing the set to a close with the atmospheric Apocalypse.

At face value there isn’t a lot of deviation from the common thread throughout the track list but take a step forward to immerse yourself and each song has its own characteristic and personality. Greg Gonzalez’s lead vocals are verging on androgynous, one of the biggest surprises of the evening was the lack of a female vocal accompaniment.

This was a beautiful, relaxing and languorous evening which the audience reaction reflected, more awe than adulation. Cigarettes After Sex played a dangerous game when expecting the crowd to call them back for an encore, such was the reflective calm throughout, but they did rustle up the spirit and were rewarded with one more track Dreaming of You, concluding a calm and tempered start to the week, with not a drop of sweat lost.