"Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)," the epic opener on Cymbals Eat Guitars' sophomore full-length, starts out in familiar territory: strangled guitars push and pull, tossing discarded noise across the stereo spectrum like cigarette butts. It's the most indie-rock-sounding thing you'll hear all year — which means, briefly, Cymbals Eat Guitars sound kinda-sorta conventional. Talk about a fucking misnomer. Throughout eight-and-a-half gorgeous minutes, the quartet leave no sonic stone unturned, layering their jagged six-strings with percussion overdubs, gorgeous piano trills, and Joseph D'Agostino's A-bomb of a voice. The track builds and shapeshifts through tempos and styles — there are guitar effects, military cymbals, and gigantic falsetto swoops. It's art-rock masquerading as indie, but there's absolutely nothing disingenuous about their Titanic-sized emotions. Cymbals Eat Guitars are arrangement maximalists — the nervous "Shore Points" sounds like nine excellent tracks crammed into less than three minutes; "Keep Me Waiting" throbs like vintage emo but wields a hook sharper than a scythe; and "Plainclothes" morphs from disco bass to punk angst to psychedelic drool. ("Dry mushrooms taste a lot like communion wafers.") There are sonic surprises littered throughout these 10 marvelous tracks: the astral harmonies and soothing electric piano that unfold midway through the hyper-literate "Definite Darkness," the classic-rock guitar solos in the climax of lighter-waver "Another Tunguska," Moon & Antarctica effects-pedal webs on "Secret Family." So many wonderful things happen on Lenses Alien that you can't possibly remember them all. The only solution, of course, is to listen again.
CYMBALS EAT GUITARS + HOORAY FOR EARTH + BEIGE | Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave, Allston | September 20 @ 8 pm | 18+ | $12 | 617.779.0140