Systematic, Symbolic and Sometimes Y
From the sunny and dry deserts of Arizona was born the group known as Lymbyc Systym, a competent electronic music duo that suffers from a problem that seems to plague many artists these days–absolutely horrid choices in band naming. The needlessly quadrupled sometimes-vowel in their moniker prompts the listener to ask “Why? Why, why why?”
The duo’s latest release Symbolyst (why…why?) is not their first foray into the electronic scene. They’ve been together for over ten years and have been pushing records out since their first EP in 2005. The music has all the familiar signs of a long-term duo: their songs are tight, the melodies are catchy and often counterpoint each other nicely as on “Eyes Forward,” one of the album’s most memorable tracks. Optimistic synthesized arpeggios that give off the “We can do this,” feeling backed up by a classical string section. Oh yes, it’s tight.
But what else is it?
Tight song-building and an ear for melody are two of the greatest prerequisites for any musician. These qualities often separate the weak from the strong, but for a duo making instrumental electronic pop songs, is it really enough? Those who truly appreciate what can be done in electronic music look for just a little bit more than warm Wurlitzer chords and starry Rhodes improvisations, and it’s hard to believe that Lymbyc Systym is supplying something truly significant.
The ten tracks on Symbolyst seem to range from standard electronic pop fare to a sort-of Icelandic sound, but the memorable moments are few and far between. The Bell brothers of Lymbic Systym will need to step up their game if they want to be recognized as heavy hitters in their genre, because right now the music is coming off as well-produced pop music without vocals. If that sort of thing floats your boat, then Symbolyst could easily be your favorite record of the year.
The rest of us, however, are looking for something more special. It’s time to graduate from “Prairie School” and move onto something a little less dry.