Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “The Natural World” by CYMBALS, from the 2014 album The Age of Fracture on Tough Love Records.
Although they started as a arty, post-punk influenced duo, London’s CYMBALS have evolved into a fully-functioning quartet who excel in making clever and often funky electronic music. Singer/guitarist Jack Cleverly and keyboardist Dan Simons (along with a rotating cast of other musicians) were the core of the band early on, but after the release of their 2010 debut Sideways, Sometimes, the band expanded to include the pair’s longtime friends Luke Carson and Neil Gillespie on bass and drums, respectively, resulting in the lineup that wrote and composed their more electronic-based second album.
For their sophomore effort, this year’s The Age of Fracture, the band drew equal influence from Daniel T. Rodgers’ eponymous sociohistorical book and their love of ’80s pop, particularly that of Whitney Houston. If those components sound at odds with each other, it’s because they are, but the end result is both remarkably accessible and rewarding, not the least on “The Natural World”. The track is sequenced like an ’80s 12″ edit: lengthy but never proggy, danceable but not necessarily disco-ready. The subdued, inquisitive verses lead to a chorus that reaches large lyrically, but Cleverly sells it by pushing into his upper register. “The Natural World” takes Some Great Reward-era Depeche Mode’s assembly line approach to electronic music, but replaces Gore and Gahan’s elevated sensuousness for an equally impassioned, yet ultimately more humanized, attitude that makes their plea all the more engaging.
After spending last week in Austin at SXSW, CYMBALS are heading back to the United Kingdom, where they’ll play a pair of gigs in June. They’ll be back in North America later this year though, so keep up with the band on their website and Facebook. You can listen to their live set recorded recently for KEXP at the Cutting Room Studios in NYC here and watch the dance-filled clip for “The Natural World” below.