Cigarettes After Sex’s languid dream-pop soothes the soul

With finals fast approaching and stress mounting, it’s important to decompress between study sessions by any means necessary. In times like this, turn to Cigarettes After Sex – the band, obviously. Founded by Greg Gonzalez during his time as an undergraduate at the University of Texas at El Paso, the band currently consists of Gonzalez and three other members.

The origins of Cigarettes After Sex were seemingly accidental as Gonzalez was casually experimenting with capturing the spacious sounds of recording music in a four-story stairwell at the university. Four years later in 2012, these dreamy pop tracks would make up the band’s first EP “I.” However, it wouldn’t be until 2015 that the group would see any viral success. Thanks to the YouTube recommendation algorithm, the four-track release blew up in just a few short days.

The band’s de facto magnum opus “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” has amassed almost 75 million views on the platform with other tracks putting up similarly impressive figures in the tens-of-millions. Due to the song’s sudden popularity and cinematic vibe, “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” has been featured in numerous television shows including “Shameless” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” All this attention allowed them to focus their efforts on creating a full-length album. In June 2017, their work culminated in the release of their self-titled studio album, which debuted to critical praise.

Cigarette After Sex’s eponymous first album embodies everything lauded in their earlier singles and EPs. Led by Gonzalez’s androgynous, hypnotizing vocals, he spins complicated stories of unrequited love and lustful affairs that resonate with a uniquely millennial flair. The opening track “K.” sets the oddly consoling yet unmistakably dejected mood which permeates the album. Washed with distant, sweeping guitar chords interspersed between starkly poetic verses from Gonzalez, he pines over a girl named Kristen, a former lover who he can’t shake from his mind. Stylistically, this album is incredibly consistent – almost to the point of redundancy – but, somehow each song feels distinct. “Cigarettes After Sex” flows seamlessly and cinematically for a quick 47 minutes, leaving the listener invariably less tense both in a physical, muscular sense and state of mind.

The band’s shoegaze and indie influences are transparently drawn from genre-staples like Slowdrive’s quintessential 1993 album “Souvlaki” and Mazzy Star’s downtempo melancholic lyricism. However, Cigarettes After Sex has made a name for itself as more than a magnificent cover band. What Gonzalez does so well is making the music his own, combining modern elements and a wave of indie groups that faded to the grunge craze in the late 90s in a niche revival of sorts. If you need to mellow out or have troubles drifting off to sleep with thoughts of impending finals buzzing around your head, ditch the melatonin pills and give Cigarettes After Sex a listen.


Mitchell Clark is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at mitchell.clark@uconn.edu.