Album Review: Cubits — Cubits

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The debut self-titled album from the Fairfield synth-pop trio Cubits is an entrancing, haunting listen that you’ll want to hide inside of for a few days — like the blanket fort where your imagination ran wild as a kid. If you like feeling a little alone and separate in a public place, this is your headphone companion for sure.

The album showcases the versatility — and nuanced songwriting and composition skills — of multi-instrumentalists Michael Dugan, Parker DeMers and Nicholas Naioti who take turns trading vocals, synths, guitars and drums in what is ultimately a hive-mind where no piece can be taken away from the whole.

A dark mood seems to run below even the prettiest moments, always waiting below the surface but rarely rising to the top. The tune “Mind Tricks” lets that dark energy flourish just once and becomes the record’s most explosive — and best — track for it. But even then, the heavy guitars retreat and are replaced by a head-swimming coda that brings us back into a rich interiority.

The album is highly controlled and the moods come off as complex, subtle and conflicted. This heady, dynamic sensibility is embodied primarily by Cubits’ perfectly balanced, carefully layered arrangements. Listen, for instance, on “You Were Always Down,” for how the band passes melody from guitar to voice, from voice to synthesizer, from synthesizer back to guitar with ease.

The record ends on an intriguing note that hints at new possibilities for Cubits. We may think from the first few tracks that we’ve got them pegged as dreamy pop. But the record’s fascinating final statement, “Maybe Someday,” leaves us with a masterful progressive rock epic. The track takes us through a series of movements united by a particular darkening chord change that recalls Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack, then departs on a robotic vocal intonation that reflects our very futuristic present — but maybe Cubits’ sonic future as well. Someday is today. What’s tomorrow?

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 220.

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