Cigarettes After Sex front man Greg Gonzalez had a clear vision for his band’s debut album, a gorgeously cinematic work. After the phenomenal online break-out success of 2015’s reverberant beauty “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” from the early Cigarettes EP (I.) from 2012, the Brooklyn transplant (originally from El Paso) wanted to project his worldview on to a bigger screen, a broader canvas. As Greg explains, “This is like the novel or feature-length version of Cigarettes. I wanted it to feel like a complete work, where some of the imagery repeats—like it’s all in the same world. It’s very much a fulfillment of the feelings in the short works.”
That sense of fulfillment is richly felt on Cigarettes After Sex, which unspools like the most achingly romantic of movies: immersive, cohesive and transporting. Swooning in the spirit of influences such as Mazzy Star and Red House Painters, its sumptuous songs of love elevate Cigarettes to the ranks of those acts who create worlds of their own, exciting the most devoted kind of following.
Although Cigarettes seemed to spark into life over one breakthrough weekend in 2015, Gonzalez ignited the project in 2008. Early iterations nodded to 1980s-vintage New Order, Erasure and Madonna, before Gonzalez harkened back to darker influences such as Joy Division for a band makeover.
For some of the band’s early years, Gonzalez studied music at the University of Texas, El Paso. He dropped out, but his time there was not wasted. Attracted by the “echo-y” sonic potential of a university stairway, he recorded an EP there which, he says, “ended up being something special.” Indeed, Cigarettes’ 2012 EP was so special Gonzalez struggled to follow it. When his patient perfectionism bore fruit with Affection, the online response took his breath away, he recalls. “There was this big flood of support over, like, a weekend… It was fairly emotional for me, because I’d been waiting for that since I started writing music.”