Monday, November 30, 2009
Shutter Release - Lymbyc Systym
SCQ Rating: 81%
Not three months ago, I pontificated the slow demise of post-rock, arguing that the genre’s few proud talents were being diluted by a coattail-clinging majority of replicates who reinforce all that’s turgid and predictable about the once-promising style. What’s worse about my pessimism is that I know how well founded it is; just look at how little the genre has grown, when its very initiative was to step outside traditional rock’s narrow parameters. Yet every few years, a record will come along and force me to second-guess my skepticism. Shutter Release, the new full-length by Lymbyc Systym, is that overdue breath of fresh air, calling to mind some of post-rock’s finest innovators over ten bracing compositions.
Displacing the sentiment maintained by acts like The Twilight Sad and Fuck Buttons that post-rock must be cowered over, the Brooklyn-based duo of Mike and Jared Bell would rather romanticize than scaremonger. Between the pulse-pounding rollercoaster of ‘Trichromatic’, which opens like a percussive showdown before hitching a more celebratory momentum, and ‘Late Night Classic’’s bedtime melancholy of tender acoustics, Shutter Release dabbles in both the maximal and understated. If the title track portrays Lymbyc Systym at their most aggressive, with horns layered smoothly over spritely drum fills, then ‘Teddy’ must be their rousing swansong of electric keys and full-blown orchestral crests. Outside these sporadic shots of adrenaline, the Brothers Bell employ a nostalgia fitting of their Polaroid-styled cover-art, offering rear-window views of moments passed on ‘Interiors’ and poignant emotional rushes of ‘Kubrick’. The latter, in particular, is a model example of this act’s discipline, as they spark an unassuming force, steady yet intricately built, and settle it with a plateau that’s more powerful in its graces than any explosive climax.
Lymbyc Systym may not be pioneering many new sounds here, but they’ve certainly taken notes from the best. Evoking the angular openness of TNT-era Tortoise (particularly ‘Trichromatic’), the accessible cinematics of Album Leaf and even the organic beats of ISAN (on ‘T-Ball’), Shutter Release – in a do-or-die comparison - rumbles and breaks loose with the life-affirming magnetism of an instrumental Broken Social Scene album. There’s a sense of freedom to these tracks that rival the Canadian collective’s melodic catharsis; nowhere is this more palpable than on ‘Bedroom Anthem’, a banjo-backed guitar jam that detonates into fanfare horns, electric distortion and crashing cymbals. Instead of scaring us with the genre's typical long shadows, Lymbyc Systym prefers exercises in pocket-sized grandeur, making Shutter Release as detailed as a smooth electronica record but focused with the heroic swings necessary to ward off post-rock’s last stand.