Music Reviews

Cindy Lee Explores the Universe’s Pain on WHAT’S TONIGHT TO ETERNITY


Genre: Experimental, Indie Rock

Favorite Tracks: “Speaking From Above,” “Just For Loving You I Pay The Price,” “Heavy Metal”

With their fourth album under the moniker Cindy Lee, the former lead of Women, Patrick Flegel, has created a sound akin to black licorice. WHAT’S TONIGHT TO ETERNITY soundtracks the feeling of the breaking and the reforming of self, confronting life in its existential enormousness so I might live no more tortured than I need be.

Like eternity, like the human condition, WHAT’S TONIGHT TO ETERNITY flows in and out of chaos and serenity. Synths beat like an anxious heart, reverberating throughout the later half. It’s loud, beautiful shoegaze, rougher and yet dreamlike—gospel for the cynic, atheist, and agnostic alike, the reverb wobbles into a euphoric, cathartic release of melody. Outside of this noise is a silent chaotic void this album paradoxically soundtracks. I’ll be damned if this thing doesn’t make me replay every moment of loss and subsequent acceptance of what I cannot change. Its melodic riffs, shared on the keyboard and guitar, pair well to, say, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN WE ARE FLOATING IN SPACE. Something about those distant vocals are undoubtedly reminiscent of Cults, as are the electric guitar riffs fit for an overcast beach.

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The first half, even with its strident screeching, maintains a plangent perfection, complemented by spacey keyboard riffs that keep it level. There are standout experimental moments on tracks like “I Want You to Suffer,” where you’ll want to keep the volume at half-mast for the guitar reverb. Down the line, “Lucifer Sands” marks a turning point: we have grieved, we have been through the tumultuous sounds of life, so it is time for a confrontation of all the love lost, all the pain endured quietly when Lee samples a testimony of a woman recounting a religious experience with the Devil: “I am so done with you… I would rather spend eternity in nothing / than to spend eternity with you.” And from there the album turns into that nothing, becoming undone like the preceding five songs had threatened to.

By the second half, Cindy Lee asks, and Cindy Lee answers: WHAT’S TONIGHT TO ETERNITY? I couldn’t write their response in exact words, but they could tell you with droning synths on “Just for Loving You I Pay the Price,” though you’d only understand if you’d comisserated and exalted with preceding songs like “The Limit.” And while I put “Speaking From Above” on repeat, the fitting end to the never-ending “Heavy Metal” kept bringing all this delicate madness together too perfectly to miss. It’s the ideal conclusion––the shoegaze, the reverb, the crisp guitar riffs and angelic gospels of the agnostic church. I’m left where I started: lost in a strange old house out of Scooby Doo, haunted by my fears of inadequacy and perpetual loneliness. With this playing through over ear headphones as I drift off on a stressful Tuesday night, I might as well be tripping on the finest LSD the ‘60s had to offer, because this is where the album lives in my mind: the consciousness of a person figuring it all among a world of stricture, resulting in a beautiful, near-destructive explosion of emotional retaliation and self-love.

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While this album soundtracks internal conflict, it’s also the existential soundtrack for a broken heart, fit for all the pain the universe has to offer. And even if you do have them, as in, the only one you could ever want––some don’t even think such a thing exist––if you’ve realized what so many spend their lives pursuing and their dreams imagining, then this is the soundtrack to your bliss, reminding you that tight as you may hold them, they will slip away into eternity as tonight and all others will. Fear not, laments Lee, all’s not lost, for while we slip increasingly away from each other, and into ourselves, who’s to say what eternity holds?

Liam Glennie
Liam loves food as much as he loves music, though he thinks he could go without food for longer. Recently, he's more of a beach than mountain kinda guy, but he also wonders, does it matter?

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