Review Summary: Lymbyc Systym have not yet reached a creative peak, but are happily In Transit to that point.
Lymbyc Systym have always had one thing going for them that most instrumental bands can’t capture in song, a sense of adolescent wonder and hope. That’s the best way to describe any music that this duo creates, and that sentiment is certainly true of their most recent effort, Symbolyst. However, the Bell brothers have not yet reached their creative peak.
The most obvious difference put forth by this album is that of texture. The band has come a very long way since their 2005 debut EP Carved By Glaciers. They’ve produced a fuller sound overall, adding even more keyboards ala Jared Bell, and fortifying their songs with some very well written string arrangements. The last track even ushers in the rare sound of guitar. The percussion has also seen an improvement. Mike Bell has quite apparently been working on his writing and technical ability as a drummer and it pays off greatly, resulting in a more interesting backbone to these songs. All of these extra layers give the music an enhanced maturity and complexity to the unbridled playfulness that is Lymbyc Systym. The band is consciously attempting to push their sound to greater heights. Tracks like “Prairie School”, “Wave”, and “Dragon Year” just feel more substantial, and more deliberate than most of their previous output. And the various melodies laid out here are constantly improving on what has been done by this band before. Jared is getting very inventive with his playing, and has successfully steered clear of sounding stale, something hard to accomplish as the melody maker in a two-piece.
However, as Lymbyc Systym is wont to do, the feelings evoked here are of happiness, innocence, and enthusiasm for life in general. This isn’t really a major detractor, but that seems to be mostly what this band is good at. While they may be free to explore the limits of what they use to create these sounds, very few negative emotions are looked into, and it begins to feel a bit same-y near the end of 38 minutes. They seem to have settled into an emotional comfort zone that if not expanded to darker, more intense territories, could water down the powerful feelings evoked by Lymbyc Systym’s music in general.
Really, Symbolyst is a solid step forward for Lymbyc Systym. The songwriting and playing are constantly improving, and show no signs of stopping anytime soon. But if not kept in check, like many other post-rock acts, this band’s uniqueness could be sullied by emotional stasis. It will be interesting to see if Lymbyc Systym can avoid running into a cycle of overfamiliarity.