Relaxing beach sounds, like squawking seagulls and cresting waves, open Rippin’ Cigs’ debut EP, Auto Infinite Fantasy Vol. 1. The EP, which dropped Jan. 9, seeks to inspire listeners to worry less and groove more. The pair that makes up the alternative/indie R&B duo, lifelong friends Brad Sprentz and Jacob Markosky, do just that with sun-soaked melodies, wavy, oscillating instruments, and unexpected tempo changes.
“The common theme is letting go of the past and taking charge of your own direction, all while having as much fun as you can in the process,” says Markosky.
In the opening track “Capricia,” the beach noises make way for a slippery psychedelic surf-rock beat. “Don’t you think it’s wrong that you do it for money,” they sing in the chorus. “You been at this for so long, you don’t know what real love it / Just let me try to show you what I’m saying / I’ll give you all that’s left but I need you to take it.” Then about two minutes in, with Maroon 5-like vocals, Rippin’ Cigs breaks down to the bridge with spare guitar plucks and dreamy echoing vocals. The tempo changes again at minute four (the song clocks in around five minutes), making for a multifaceted track that seems like a few tunes blended into one.
“Frames,” the second track, continues with the sunny melodies, and talks getting high with a partner. “All I do is show up / She already rolled up / Let me take all my time,” the duo sings. The upbeat mood continues until the very end when the beat becomes choppy and leisurely while the instruments are slowly stripped away, like the comedown from a drug.
Then, in “W.B.L.T,” (which stands for "why be like that) the band showcases its funk side, making raspy vocals the focus, with the bass and drums driving much of the song. It’s reminiscent of the '70s, until the end when after a guitar solo and another iteration of the chorus, the feedback of a speaker marks the start of an instrumental interlude that almost sounds like an improvisational jam session. It’s a fitting segway into the next song, “One Day I’ll Find Home.”
The fourth track opens as an acoustic tune with somber lyrics, but like others on the album, it changes with two minutes remaining. A distorted voice talks about dreaming, and a spoken word part begins. “Spend 10 minutes inside my head and you'll be looking for an exit,” the voice says, as if the vocalist spent too much time thinking about being alone, and started to go crazy.
Finally, like a quiet storm, “I Woke Up In LA (Without You)” slowly begins, keeping listeners in a dreamy state until it becomes more R&B-focused. It’s a song about lost love that ends with all the sounds heard throughout the EP coming together with a huge flourish.
Auto Infinite Fantasy Vol. 1 starts off fun and free, but the deeper into the album you go, the deeper into the minds of Sprentz and Markosky you fall. It becomes more serious, alternating between isolating thoughts and wistful textures and sounds. Rippin’ Cigs showcase their musical ability for multiple sounds, making sense of their alternative label.
Sprentz and Markosky grew up watching their fathers play in bands together around Pittsburgh, and from 2014-2018, the pair spent time in the Pittsburgh rock alternative outfit Blackbird Bullet. In 2019, Sprentz moved to Brooklyn to seek fresh opportunities. The change in atmosphere inspired a new creative direction for Sprentz and ultimately the sound of Rippin' Cigs. With Markosky on guitar, bass, keys, and vocals and Sprentz. Brad on drums, guitar, bass, keys, and vocals, the band announced itself last September with their debut single and music video for "W.B.L.T.”