A few years ago, I was standing outside The Stag's Head, a small pub in east London that, in my memory at least, had lots of wood panelling and at least two dart boards. For a time, it was the place where local bands and labels would put on nights. There was a side room that would get full to bursting whenever somebody "buzzy" played (back then, people said "buzzy" semi-seriously). On that particular night, I had just watched Thee Fair Ohs play. They were on the label Tough Love, and though they weren't particularly up my alley on record, they were utterly fearless live. While I was standing outside, catching my breath, I said as much to a random guy next to me. We got to talking, and I asked him if he had any other local band recommendations. He mentioned a couple, then said his goodbyes, only to run back a few minutes later: "Completely forget, I have a band." They were called CYMBALS, and I grew to like them because they made guitar music that had dance music sensibilities—twitchy and raw and full of texture, but also pretty spare somehow. And yeah, they were a bit like the Talking Heads.
Having spent 2014 touring their latest album, The Age of Fracture, CYMBALS ended the year with a new single, "Talk To Me," the video for which we're premiering today. It's a heart-prodder—songs about communication generally are. We all know the feeling of being misunderstood, or failing to find the words, or desperately searching for them from another. "There's something a little aggressive and direct in the phrase 'Talk To Me'—it's a demand made of the other, of the lover," CYMBALS frontman Jack Cleverly told The FADER. "There's a parallel with the spirit of the chorus to our song 'Natural World' (I don't know enough about you to be kind to you). This theme of the failure of language, and the difficulty of communicating love or understanding in this way, is in a lot of our songs."
The video, at first glance, is their poster boy moment: they all look dapper and they're doing their band stuff. But it's also a little awkward and raw, and the way they meet the camera's gaze, only to drop it seconds later, makes me think about the performance aspect to communication—how our own self-awareness of watching and being watched can get in the way of connecting. "We played about with some other ideas that were a bit more tongue-in-cheek, but in the end we felt that the tone of the song deserved something a bit more serious," explains Paddy Power, who directed the video. "The song is quite personal to the band, and I wanted to reflect that intimacy."
If you're in London, catch CYMBALS at The Lexington on April 7th.