The Cinematics – Break EP

The Cinematics
Break EP

The deluge of atmospheric synth and guitar-based bands continues with The Cinematics, a Scottish band that embraces its inner indie-pop with angular guitars and glossy, verse-chorus-verse sing-a-longs that lean more towards The Killers than The Cure. Most of the songs seem to fit in a sonically lacquered and tidily packaged box of coolly displayed angst – catchy, smooth, and with simplistic lyrics of romantic (and other types of) turmoil.

The gift of this band is vocalist Scott Rinning with his clearly enunciated vocals that are, at times, fraught with emotion. Scott also sings with a varied vocal delivery and tone so that he sounds like a different singer on each song, or even for part of a song (recalling Christian Goyer of I Love You, But I’ve Chosen Darkness).

This four-song EP captures the band at their best, with three big, rousing-chorus numbers and a more intimate acoustic number that showcases Scott’s emotional range. The first and third songs can be found on their album A Strange Education.

The crisp, tightly-structured, up-tempo opener, “Break”, has a The Killers-like loping beat and synths, with Scott’s sharp, slightly nasal, clear, and emphatic vocals and delivery sounding somewhat like Piotr (Pete) Fijalkowski of Adorable. A wordless loop of elongated “Ah – ah – ahs” and high-pitched guitar line and synths form the swelling chorus and the song presses forward near the end, with a mingling of three different vocal lines, one being the “Ah – ah” chorus line, the other of Scott exclaiming “Don’t panic”, and the last line of “It’s just a trick of the light, she said”. The zingy guitar line and the wordless calls on the chorus parts hold the song together, and it’s these added touches that make “Break” coalesce instead of break down into just another too-slick, verse-chorus-verse song.

Next up is “Burning Light”, a strong, up-tempo rocker with pushing beat, trilling, reverberating guitars that turn a bit fiery and high-pitched on the choruses, and a jagged, low-end bass guitar line that gives the sound some depth. Scott’s vocals are lighter at first, on the verses, a bit weary and nasal, like Pete of Adorable, but then changes to become more emotive on the chorus, as the song breaks into U2 and Coldplay territory with a bunch of ringing guitars and crashing cymbals. Scott emphasizes his words as he proclaims “This burning light shines down on me, and when I open my eyes, and look down – I hope you’re gone” (simplistic lyrics, but with a nifty twist in that he wants the subject of the song gone).

The band covers Beck’s “Sunday Sun”, starting off in a mellow mood, but quickly changing to upbeat, pounding drums, strummed guitar, and a clear, higher guitar line. Scott’s vocals are cool in tone and sound plainer than in previous songs as he sings “There’s no other ending, Sunday sun. Yesterdays are ending, Sunday sun”, while a wordless arc of “Ahhh”s and “Oh-oh-oh”s, quick tambourine jingle, and strummed guitar round out the rousing chorus.

The stellar closer “Home” is an acoustic number, with a highly emotive Scott backed only by strummed guitar, with the sound of fingers glancing over the strings. Once again, Scott’s vocals sound totally different than on previous songs of this EP. He channels the likes of James Walsh of Starsailor (also in the spare guitar sound) and Jeff Buckley (although less luminous and trembling than Jeff), with clear, slightly broken down, desperate vocals sung in a high register, as he pushes his emotions to the fore, drawing out the words “Yes, I feel it in my hea-ar-ar-art”, vocally acrobatic, and not smooth and reined in like on the studio tracks. The lyrics sound simple on paper, but are given life by Scott’s earnest vocal delivery “Nothing else can make me feel this way. Here I am…I am home”. Sincere and effective.