CYMBALS is in crisis. The Age Of Fracture, their second album, is named after a book by Princeton academic, Daniel T. Rodgers, that examines the parsing of culture into quarantined micromarkets in the post-war West. The album, Age Of Fracture, finds this U.K. band looking inward upon its fractured self. Complex and divided, CYMBALS is clamoring to find common ground with itself, like a microcosm of it’s namesake—though it’s focus is more personal than political.
The Natural World is a very personal interpretation of understanding oneself in relation to the greater world. “We can hear the passing of time/And the sound of us in your mind,” singer Jack Cleverly sings over the trad-disco beat. Erosion is pleasant in its simplicity and syncopated chorus chant, “All I know/I know I’m real,” and the even more evocative This City shimmies through the mundane everyday ways of routine, and the ways we try to make them bearable (Brandy in your tea? Don’t mind if i do.)

In general, though, The Age Of Fracture is a bit broken up, sonically. It’s heavy with the melodies and kick drums of pogo-happy Britpop tracks (Erosion), as well as often monotonous ’80s synth bits (Empty Space). And obvious parallels to New Order or the Human League are so clear that CYMBALS come over like a Breakfast Club soundtrack cutting room castoff. The inclusion of some dance-your-navel-gazing-cares-away rhythms (The End) towards the end bars Fracture from being more effectively melancholy. Despite the loftier academic allusions, the band’s music is most affective when dancing on the peppier side. (This album was, afterall, produced by Dreamtrak, who has previously worked with Swim Deep, Chad Valley, Hot Chip). Hence, much of The Age Of Fracture is stuck in a malaise.